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The Life And Writings Of Saint Patrick -Saint Patrick

This is quite a different question from St. Patrick’s Roman Mission. As Colgan observes, all the ancient authorities—indeed, all writers in his time without exception—admit the Roman Mission of St. Patrick, but they do not quite agree as to the question who was the consecrating prelate, and where the ceremony took place. The Pope then claimed, as he now always does, the right to institute bishops; that is, he elects them to the office and authorises their consecration, but it is only very rarely that the Pope himself has performed the ceremony, either in present or past times.

Now, some ancient authorities appear to assert that Patrick was consecrated by St. Celestine in person. The most important testimony to that effect is the statement in the Tripartite. We quote from the Irish text:

When Patrick heard and knew (from the messengers announcing the death of Palladius) that unto him God had granted the apostleship of Ireland, he went thereafter to Rome to have Orders given to him; and Celestinus, Abbot of Rome, he it is that read Orders over him, Germanus and Amatho, King of the Romans, being present with them.

We find a statement in substance to the same effect—that is, that Patrick was consecrated by St. Celestine—made in several Breviaries, which give a special Office and Lessons to St. Patrick, notably in the Roman Breviary, the Rheims Breviary, the Breviary of the Canons Regular, and also in the Lives of several of our Irish saints, especially St. Ciaran of Saiger and St. Declan of Ardmore. Marianus Scotus, too, and many later chroniclers, who followed his authority, state the same thing. The main authority is, however, the Tripartite, from which both Scotus and his followers in all probability borrowed the statement, and Jocelyn may be quoted in favour of the same opinion. But it cannot be accepted, except in a very general sense not intended, so far as we can judge, by the author of the Tripartite. Of course, if St. Celestine elected St. Patrick to the episcopal office and authorized his consecration for the Irish mission, it may be truly said that he consecrated him in the sense that he was responsible for his consecration, and gave the necessary authority for performing the ceremony.

But the weight of ancient authority certainly goes to show that St. Patrick was not consecrated by St. Celestine in person, nor consecrated at all in Rome, but in a place variously called Eboria, or Euboria, or Ebmoria, and by a prelate named sometimes Amatus or Amator, but much more probably called Amatorex by others, although we cannot for certain determine his See.

Thus the author of the Second Life says that Patrick received the Pontifical grade from a wonderful man and high bishop, Amatorex by name, and the place he calls Eboria. The same statement is made by the author of the Third Life in almost the same words; but the author seems to imply that he was ordained Bishop before he came to St. Celestine to get his mission, not afterwards, as the author of the Second Life more correctly states. The Fourth Life says that Patrick first went to Rome, and got due licence from the Apostolic See, in virtue of which he set out for Britain, and had actually arrived at the sea between Gaul and Britain, when he met the messengers announcing the death of Palladius. Thereupon they turned aside from their way to Amatorex, a bishop dwelling in the neighbourhood, and there Patrick received episcopal grade; but the strange statement immediately follows—which seems to be an interpolation—that ‘Patrick was ordained in presence of Celestine and Theodosius the younger, King of the world; and Amatorex, Bishop of Auxerre, is the bishop who ordained him.’ The last sentence looks very like an interpolation from another source by some one who was not satisfied with the accuracy of the previous statement. It is, at any rate, clearly incorrect, for Germanus was certainly Bishop of Auxerre at the time of Patrick’s consecration, since Amator, his predecessor, had died in A.D. 418.

Probus does not name the place of consecration, but says, like the rest, that Patrick, when the message of the death of Palladius was brought to him, turned aside from his journey, and was ordained by an admirable bishop, who was a man of great sanctity, Amator by name. Jocelyn, in the Sixth Life, merely says that Celestine, after considerable delay, when at length he heard of the death of Palladius, consecrated Patrick a bishop, but whether with his own hands or not he leaves rather uncertain. He makes no mention, however, of any other consecrator, or place of consecration, except Rome.

Following, therefore, the weight of ancient authority, we may accept it as fairly certain that Patrick was not consecrated by St. Celestine in person at Rome, but by some prelate named Amator, or Amatorex, at a place called Ebmoria, or Euboria, an episcopal city, which it is now very difficult, if not impossible, to identify.

It would be very satisfactory if we could with certainty identify this Amatorex and Ebmoria; but we fear it is no longer possible to do so with certainty. The ablest scholars have held different opinions in the matter; and it is very doubtful if ever the question can be settled satisfactorily, as these opinions are based on mere conjecture.

Colgan, whose views are entitled to great weight, seems to think that Eboria—the form of the word which he favours—must be sought for amongst the Gallic tribe called by Cæsar the Eburones, who dwelt between the Rhine and the Meuse; and he makes Amatorex either Bishop of Trèves or Tongres. His chief reason is that the Fourth Life brings Patrick to the sea between Gaul and England, where he heard of the death of Palladius; and thereupon ‘he turned aside’ to a bishop dwelling in the neighbourhood, from whom he received episcopal consecration in virtue of the Pope’s authority, which was, however, conditional on the receipt of news of the death of Palladius, whence he infers that Eboria—perhaps Liège—was the place to which the message was brought, and Trèves or Tongres would, in that case, be the most likely city where he could find a bishop in the neighbourhood.

Lanigan hesitatingly suggests Evreux, the capital of the tribe, called anciently Eburovices, who were a subdivision of the Gallic Auterci. They certainly dwelt near the Channel; but this is the only reason that can be alleged in favour of identifying Eboria with Ebroica, which appears to have been the ancient name of Evreux.

The Bollandists think that Eporedia, now called Ivrea, not far from Turin in the north of Italy, was the Eboria referred to in the Lives. Cardinal Moran defends this view with much ingenuity, and there are many things to be said in its favour. It was situated in a very strong position on the river Duria, at the mouth of the picturesque Val d’Aosta, and thus commanded two of the most frequented passes over the Alps. It was a natural place for Patrick to rest on his return journey from Rome, and also a natural place for him to meet the two messengers, Augustine and Benedict, who, after crossing the Alps, were now on their way to announce the death of Palladius to the Pope. They could not pass, so to speak, without meeting each other, for the narrow Roman bridge over the river, which still exists, was carefully guarded, and strangers would be required to declare themselves. The Bishop to whom ‘they turned aside’ was, Cardinal Moran thinks, the great Maximus of Turin, which is in the immediate neighbourhood. So the phrase that he was ordained ‘a Maximo’ would not differ much from ‘ab Amatore,’ and might be mistaken for the latter. The name Eporedia, in the process of corruption, might easily become Eboria, before it was still further shortened into Ivrea.

Ivrea is still an interesting and important town of some 8,000 inhabitants. It was certainly, so to speak, the gate to and from the Mount St. Bernard Passes, and hence was always an important station. It has now a double interest for Irish Catholics, for it was there the Blessed Thady McCarthy died on his homeward journey from Rome, and in the Cathedral the great part of his holy relics were, till quite recently, preserved. We had the privilege of venerating them ourselves in November, 1895. The chief purpose of our visit was to see if we could find any trace of St. Patrick in the ancient city. The Bishop, who received us with the greatest kindness, knew nothing of any traditions connected with the Apostle of Ireland—they all concerned the Blessed Thadeo. But the place is exceedingly interesting. It is a neat and thriving town, beautifully situated under the roots of the Alps, well cleansed and cared for. The Cathedral is a fine building, close to the episcopal palace, and both are situated near the ancient castle which commanded the pass over the river from the days of Augustus to the present time.

The one great difficulty, in our mind, to accept Cardinal Moran’s view is this, that the Fourth Life seems clearly to state that the messengers announcing the death of Palladius met Patrick near the sea between Gaul and Britain, and it adds that after having received his episcopal consecration, he forthwith embarked for Ireland, and landed, after a prosperous voyage, at Inver Dea.

Wherever the consecration of Patrick may have taken place, all the authorities admit that Auxilius, Iserninus, and others of Patrick’s religious household in Ireland, were ordained on the same day. It was on that occasion also that he received the Roman name Patricius—‘a name of power,’ says the Tripartite, ‘as the Romans think, to wit, one who looseth hostages,’ or bondsmen. The name was appropriate in his case, because he freed the Gael from their slavery to the devil. It was in reality a title of honour instituted by Constantine the Great, granted for life, and only to the very highest officials of the Empire. It is probable, therefore, that in order to lend dignity and authority to the courageous missioner of a barbarous island Pope Celestine either granted or procured this title for Patrick, which thenceforward became his personal appelation, suggestive at once of dignity and paternal authority.






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