The first mention of Christianity in Ireland is in Chronica
minora of Prosper of Auxerre. An entry for the year AD 429 says that it was at the instigation of Palladius, that Pope Celestine sent Germanus to combat the Pelagian heresy in Britain. Another entry for AD 431 informs us that Palladius was sent to the "Irish believing in Christ."
It is now generally accepted by scholars, that there were
Christians living in Ireland before the coming of Patrick. But whatever may be the origins of Irish Christianity, Patrick holds pride of place as the Apostle of Ireland. Patrick’s Confessions is the earliest known work of Latin literature written outside the frontiers of the Roman Empire.
AAs a boy Patrick was captured and became a slave in Ireland and this is how during that time he described his growth of faith and knowledge of God
But after I came to Ireland, every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed, the love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was moved so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many in the night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountains; and I used to get up for prayer before daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no harm,
Patrick like St Paul realises that all that he has done and continues to do is thanks to the gift of God and his utter dependence on God. His weakness makes the space for God's power to work as he realises that such overwhelming power belongs to God and not to him.
According to Tirechán’ s
7th century Life of St Patrick
The two daughters of King Laoghaire of Connacht, Eithne and her sister Fildelm, are said to have met Patrick and his followers at the Holy Well of Ogalla, near Tulsk, County Roscommon. The women did not know who this group of men were or what was their religion, and so Eithne asked a series of questions about God. Patrick in his reply offers a rich response in faith.
“Who is God
(Quis Est Deus? / Cia ba ndiaeisi)
And where is God?
(et Ubi est Deus / ocus Cia airm hítí?)
Of whom is God,
And where is God’s house?
Has your God sons and daughters?
Gold and Silver ?
Is God alive forever?
Is God in heaven
Or on earth?
In the sea,
In the rivers,
In the mountains
In the Valleys ?
Speak to us about God
Give us some idea of God;
How may God be seen?
How may he be loved? How may he be found? Is God found in Youth or Old Age? Speak to
us of God!”
St Patrick’s Response
(known as St Patrick’s Creed)
Our God - God of All people (Deus Noster Deus Omnium Hominum)
God of heaven and earth of the sea and of the rivers
God of the Sun and the moon and of all the stars,
God of the high mountains and of the deep valleys.
God is above heaven and in heaven and under heaven
God has as His dwelling place heaven and earth and the sea and all that are in them.
God’s life is in all things; God inspires all things,
God governs all things,
God supports all things.
God kindles the light of the sun,
God creates the light of the
moon and stars. He makes wells in the arid earth and rocky islands in the sea.
God has a Son who is coeternal with him and of like nature. The Son is not younger than the Father nor the Father than the Son; and The Holy Spirit Breathes in Them. Not separate are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
(From texts translated by Liam de Paor and James Carney. Text is in Latin and Old Irish and English)