Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition
Muirchú's Life of Patrick (Author: Muirchú maccu Machtheni)

Chapter 8


I 23 (22) = B II 4. (1) There was a man in the territory of the Ulaid in Patrick's time, Macc Cuill moccu Greccae. He was a fierce and wicked ruler, so much so that he was (sur)named Cyclops. (2) His thoughts were evil, his words haughty, his deeds wicked, his spirit bitter, his temper angry, his body given to sin, his mind cruel, his life pagan, his conscience vain. (3) In his godlessness he had sunk so low that one day, as he sat in a wild place high up in the hills, in Druim moccu Echach, where this bandit daily exercised his harsh rule, wear—ing emblems of the most wicked cruelty and cruelly killing wayfarers as they passed by, (4) he saw Patrick coming along, shining with the bright light of faith and, as it were, the wondrous diadem of heavenly glory, making his way towards his destination with unshaken confidence in his teaching. (Macc Cuill) thought of killing him and said to his followers: (5) ‘Look, here comes the man who seduces and perverts people, who is in the habit of performing tricks in order to deceive people and to seduce many. Let us go and set a trap for him to find out whether that god in whom he glories has any power.’ (6) So they set a trap for the holy man in this way: They made one of their company, who was in perfect health, lie down in their midst, covered with a cloak and pretending to be mortally ill, with the intention of testing the holy


man by this deceit. They called the holy man a seducer, his miracles tricks, and his prayers black magic. (7) Accordingly, as Patrick and his disciples approached, the pagans said to him: ‘Look, one of us has just fallen ill; come and sing over him some incantations of your sect, per- haps he may be healed.’ (8) Holy Patrick, however, knowing all their ruses and pretences, said firmly and intrepidly: ‘It would not be strange if he had been ill’, and when the companions of the man who had feigned illness uncovered his face they found him dead. (9) Dumbfounded and astonished by such a miracle, the pagans said to themselves: ‘This is truly a man of God; we have done wrong in seeking to trap him.’ (10) Holy Patrick, however, turned to Macc Cuill and said: ‘Why did you want to trap me?’ and the cruel tyrant replied: ‘I am sorry for what I have done. I shall do whatever you tell me to do, and now I give myself into the power of the high god whom you preach.’ (11) And holy Patrick said: ‘Believe, then, in the Lord my God Jesus, and confess your sins, and receive baptism in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ And he was converted in that hour, believed in eternal God, and was baptized. And after this Macc Cuill said further: (12) ‘I confess to you, my holy lord Patrick, that I had planned to kill you. Pass judgement, therefore, and state how much is due for such a great and wicked crime.’ (13) And Patrick said: ‘I cannot judge, but God will judge. You now go down to the seashore unarmed, and leave this part of Ireland without delay, (14) taking none of your property with you except one paltry short garment which just barely covers your body, neither eating nor drinking anything that grows in this island, with this emblem of your sin on your head, (15) and when you have come to the sea, fetter your feet with an iron chain, throw its key into the sea, board a small boat made of a single hide, without rudder or oar, and be ready to go wherever the wind and the sea shall carry you; and on whatever shore divine Providence may land you, dwell there and practise the divine commandments.’

(16) And Macc Cuill said: ‘I will do as you have told me. But


what shall we do about the dead man?’ And Patrick said: ‘He shall live and rise from death without pain.’ And Patrick raised him in that hour, and he came to life again in good health. (17) And Macc Cuill left without saying a word and went to the sea south of Mag Inis, with the confidence of unshaken faith. At the shore he fettered himself and threw the key into the sea as he had been told to do, (18) and put to sea in a small boat, and the north wind blew in his rear and took him southward and landed him at an island called Euonia. (19) There he found two admirable men, shining lights in faith and doctrine, who had been the first to preach the word of God and baptism in Euonia, and by their teaching the inhabitants of that island had been converted to the catholic faith. The names of the two men are Conindrus and Rumilus. (20) When they saw the man in his single garment they were surprised and took pity on him; they lifted him from the sea and received him hospitably. (21) Having found spiritual fathers in the place given him by God, he trained his body and soul according to their rule, and spent all the (remaining) time of his life there with those two holy bishops until he became their successor in the episcopate. This is Macc Cuill, bishop of Mane and prelate of Arde Huimnonn (the Isle of Man).