Monday 18 January 2021

Patrick Missionary to the Irish - Thomas O’Loughlin - CTS Great Saints

Patrick Missionary to the Irish
CTS Great Saints
Thomas O’Loughlin
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860821417
CTS Booklet B666

This book was another that was harder to track down, it was well worth doing so as I try and work through all the volumes in the CTS Great Saints Series. But it is not my favorite. I have become a huge fan of the Catholic Truth Society’s books and booklets. I have read many volumes from the CTS Great Saints Series, CTS Biographies, and also Saints of the Isles Series. And have loved almost all of them. I have read over 175 books from the Catholic Truth Society over the last few years. I have loved most, and benefited from all of them. But this one was different. 

The description on the back of the book is:

“Who was St Patrick? A legendary miracle worker who converted a whole island unaided, or a beleaguered missionary venturing fearfully to the edges of the known world? In this biography of the 5th century saint, Thomas O’Loughlin explores the man behind the myth through Patrick’s own writings and discovers an inspiring theologian and a man who preached peace to his captors, and forgiveness to those who had attacked him.”

And the sections in the volume are:

The Myth and the Man
Servant of the Gospel
Reviewing his Life
The Mighty Saint

The chapters are:
The Myth and the Man
     ‘St Patrick, shamrock, and all that
     What do we know about the man?
     Christianity and Ireland
     Historical Dates
     A Captive in Ireland
     A Roman cleric
     Patrick the Visionary

Servant of the Gospel
      The Convery   
     A Punitive God
     The Missionary
     To the ends of the Earth
     The Teacher
     Patrick’s Creed
     A member of the Universal Church
     The Pilgrim
Reviewing his Life
     A Stranger
     The Old Man
     In the Uttermost parts
     The Edge of Time

The Mighty Saint
     17 March
     Creating ‘the apostle of Ireland’
     Tirechan’s Creed
     Further Reading
This book begins with a quote from Patrick’s confession, even before the Table of Contents:

“So it would be neither right nor proper
to do anything but to tell you all of
the many great blessings and the grace
which the Lord choose to give me
in this land of my captivity.”
- Confessio 3

I have very mixed feelings about this volume. The whole-time I was reading it, it felt more like an academic essay, or even report than a biography of a saint. And there is certainly a place for such volumes, and even such volumes on saints, and Saint Patrick. But having read 12 other volumes in this series, that was absolutely not what I was expecting. In fact I dosed off a couple of times while reading the book, and it was not due to just tiredness. At the end of the volume in the section ‘Further Reading’ O’Loughlin’s first recommendations are his own translation of Patrick’s works, and one of his own much longer works dedicated to the saint.

As such this is the first volume in this series, even the first in about 50 biographies across various series from the Catholic Truth Society that feels more like an academic volume, an essay and less like a ‘life of’. As such it was rather disappointing. I have read many works about the saint. From both angles. And to be honest this is my least favorite of the lot. There were parts of this volume that were enjoyable and engaging. And others that feel like they are lifted from other works by the author and are incomplete or lacking.

If you are looking for a history, and a very nuanced interpretation than this is the book for you. If not, I would recommend you keep looking. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books in the CTS Great Saints Series:

Antonio Rosmini - J.B. Midgley
Bernard of Clairvaux - J.B. Midgley
Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley
Charles Borromeo - J.B. Midgley
Dominic - J.B. Midgley
Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft
Francis de Sales - J.B. Midgley
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ John Paul Kirkham
George: Patron of England - J.B. Midgley
John Baptist de La Salle - J.B. Midgley
John of the Cross - Jennifer Moorcroft
John Vianney - J.B. Midgley
Louis Marie de Montfort His Life, Message and Teaching - Paul Allerton SMM
Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Patrick Missionary to the Irish - Thomas O’Loughlin 

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