The St. Patrick’s three extant writings are his Confessions, “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” (basisof the hymn, “I Bind Unto Myself This Day”, a baptismal hymn) and his Letter to Coroticus. Coroticus was a war lord. He had massacred several of the new converts, and captured others, under Patrick’s pastoral care. In our days of martyrdom, the missionary Bishop also faced the martyrdom of the newly born again, that is, baptized Christians, and he wrote to Coriticus. From the saint’s own hand, this is what happened:
I myself have composed and written these words with my own hand, so that they can be given and handed over, then sent swiftly to the soldiers of Coroticus. I am not addressing my own people, nor my fellow citizens of the holy Romans, but those who are now become citizens of demons by reason of their evil works. They have chosen, by their hostile deeds, to live in death; comrades of the Scotti and Picts and of all who behave like apostates, bloody men who have steeped themselves in the blood of innocent Christians. The very same people I have begotten for God; their number beyond count, I myself confirmed them in Christ.
The very next day after my new converts, dressed all in white, were anointed with chrism, even as it was still gleaming upon their foreheads, they were cruelly cut down and killed by the swords of these same devilish men. At once I sent a good priest with a letter. I could trust him, for I had taught him from his boyhood. He went, accompanied by other priests, to see if we might claw something back from all the looting, most important, the baptized captives whom they had seized. Yet all they did was to laugh in our faces at the mere mention of their prisoners.
The entire letter can be found here. I think you can sense Patrick’s sorrow. Yet he was also sorrowful about the apostasy of the “Scotti and Picts” who collaberated in these raids leading to capture and murder. The Scotti and Picts were probably tribes who had been converted to the Christian Faith but then left it (“apostasy”, apo stasis, lit. leaving the stand, the place where they stood). Patrick was angry about their apostasy as a pastor should. They were now spiritually dead and had killed the newly alive in Christ.
Because of this, let every God-fearing man mark well that to me they are outcasts: cast out also by Christ my God, whose ambassador I am. Patricides, they are, yes and fratricides, no better than ravening wolves devouring God’s own people like a loaf of bread. Exactly as it says: “the wicked have scattered your law, 0 Lord,” which in these latter days he had planted in Ireland with so much hope and goodness; here it had been taught and nurtured in God’s sight. Eph. 6.-20 Acts 20.-29 Ps. 14:4 Ps. 119.126
Patrick confronted them all and I would guess at risk to his own life. He was brave in Christ. We need more brave men as pastors and bishops to confront apostasy, both here and abroad. We need more brave political leaders who will protest the massacre and imprisonment of Christians in other nations.
It is also clear from Bishop Patrick’s letter, he knew the Bible. The Word taught, inspired, commanded and guided him. This too is part of the Bishop’s witness for us in our Biblically illiterate Church:
And if my own do not want to know me, well and good, “a prophet is not honored in his own country.” Indeed, perhaps we are not “from the same sheepfold,” or possibly we do not have “one and the same Father for our God.” As he says, “He who is not with me, is against me” and he who “does not gather with me, scatters.” We are at cross purposes: “One destroys; another builds.” “I do not seek things that are mine.” Not by my grace, but it is God “who has given such care in my heart,” so that I should be among “the hunters or fishers” whom God foretold “in those final days.” Jn. 4:44 Jn. 10:16 Eph. 4:6 Matt. 12:30 Ecclus. 34:23 I Cor. 13:5 11 Cor. 8:16
Hear Patrick’s pain and ask as you read: Where is the sorrow of the Church and her pastors in these gray and latter days? Is there no orthodox faith in the Lord and His literal Word over the massacre of Christians, spiritually and physically?
Because of all this, my voice is raised in sorrow and mourning. Oh, my most beautiful, my lovely brethren and my sons “whom I begot in Christ,” I have lost count of your number, what can I do to help you now? I am not worthy to come to the help of God or men. “We have been overwhelmed by the wickedness of unjust men,” it is as if “we had been made outsiders.” They find it unacceptable that we are Irish. But it says “Is it not true that you all have but one God? Why then have you, each one of you, abandoned your own neighbor?” I Cor. 4:15 Ps. 65:3 Ps. 69:8 Eph. 4:5, 6 MaL 2:10