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DePaor, Maire B: Patrick, the Pilgrim Apostle of Ireland

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The story of St Patrick, known to many as the patron saint of Ireland, is as complex and mythic as the Irish culture he took as his own. Kidnapped at the age of fifteen, Patrick was smuggled to Ireland in a time of Christian upheaval in Europe. On the rocky coasts of his new home, Patrick adopted the life of a shepherd and the words of his Gaelic companions. At night, however, the Irish hills darkened to reveal the pagan gods and monsters so foreign to Patrick's Christian sensibilities. Patrick prayed for release for six years, only to return to evangelize his pagan captors.

Until recently, the modern consensus was that Patrick was a barely literate rustic struggling with a sense of inadequacy in a language he could not master. In her exhaustively researched biography, Máire B. de Paor uncovers the true Patrick as revealed through his two major literary works. Started as a defense against his accusers, Patrick's writings evolved into something more powerful -- a manifestation of the spirit that had gripped him. Set against a backdrop of the Catholic fervor of the fifth century, Patrick's words also reflect a fascinating time in religious history. As a religious figure, and as a captured slave, Patrick was the living embodiment of the conflict between the civilized Roman Catholics and the "dangerous heathen enemies of the Empire."

A scholar of exceptional depth and insight, de Paor examines Patrick's written legacy with refreshing vigor and passion and discovers an artist of astonishing literary skill and a man of great spiritual depth.