The Mustard Seed Faith of Hungry Pagan Sailors

“How about it, Christian?” taunts the captain. “You say your god is great and all powerful, so why can’t you pray for us? We’re starving to death, and there’s little chance of our ever seeing a living soul!” It’s hard to know whether the captain would have spoken Irish or Latin to Patricius [Patrick]; but Patricius, though his Latin is abysmally awkward at times, has a good ear for dialogue. Here is the original, which gives us an excellent idea of how ordinary men used the tongue of Cicero: “Quid est, Christiane? Tu dicis deus tuus magnus et omnipotens est; quare ergo non potes pro nobis orare? Quia nos a fame periclitamur; difficile est enim ut aliquem hominem umquam videamus!”

“From the bottom of your heart, turn trustingly to the Lord my God,” the visionary instructs them, “for nothing is impossible to him. And today he will send you food for your journey until you are filled, for he has an abundance everywhere.” The young man’s sincerity affects the weakened sailors, who, bowing their heads, try a moment of faith. The sound of a stampede attracts their attention; and as they raise their eyes, a herd of pigs hoofs it down the road in their direction. Not just food, but the best food of all!”

Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization, pp. 104-105

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

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