Those Who Seize the Everlasting Kingdom

However blind his British contemporaries may have been to it, the greatness of Patrick is beyond dispute: the first human being in the history of the world to speak out unequivocally against slavery, Nor will any voice as strong as his be heard again till the seventeenth century. In his own time, only Irish appreciated him for who he was; beyond their borders he was as little known as Augustine was in Ireland. Patrick himself probably never heard of Augustine, who died two years before Patrick set sail as bishop; and if he did hear of him he undoubtedly never read him. In those days, news could take a year to travel from one end of the crumbling empire to the other; books could take a decade or two – or even half a century. But Patrick shows us that he understood the dual concept of the City of Man and the City of God as well as Augustine himself when he derides Coroticus and his men as “dogs and sorcerers and murderers, and liars and false swearers… who distribute baptized girls for a price, and that for the sake of a miserable temporal kingdom which truly passes away in a moment like a cloud or smoke that is scattered by the wind.” But of his beloved, slaughtered warrior children: “O most dear ones… I can see you, beginning the journey to the land where there is no night nor sorrow nor death… You shall reign with the apostles and prophets and martyrs. You shall seize the everlasting kingdoms, as he himself promised, when he said: ‘they shall come from the east and the west and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”

Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization, pp. 114-115

Photo by Gregory DALLEAU on Unsplash

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