New book casts doubt on origins of St Patrick
Published 05/08/2013 | 05:00
A new book on the life of our patron saint is set to cause consternation with its claims that St Patrick was in fact French and not British as previously thought.
'Rediscovering Saint Patrick: A New Theory of Origins' has just been published by Irish publisher Columba Press.
The author is a Co Wicklow-based Church of Ireland clergyman, Rev Marcus Losack, and he claims he has uncovered evidence suggesting the "French connection".
While historical detail on the national saint remains sketchy, it is known that he was captured from his home by pirates when he was a teenager, and sold into slavery in Ireland.
The young Patrick managed to escape after seven years, but returned to Ireland years later as an apostle of the Christian faith, leading to him becoming the most celebrated patron saint in the world.
Rev Losack's book sets out to answer the question of whether St Patrick came from Britain or Brittany. Four years of historical sleuthing has convinced him that it was the latter.
In the text 'St Patrick's Confession', the Saint's own account of his life, which is written in Latin, Patrick mentions certain places that have never been clearly identified.
Rev Losack said: "The established theory which most scholars accept is that he was taken captive from somewhere in Britain – some say Scotland, others Wales and others say south-west England. But there has never been any real evidence provided to support that tradition."
However, on a visit to Chateau de Bonaban near St Malo in Brittany over four years ago, Rev Losack learned that the Breton site on which the chateau was built contained remains dating from the Roman era.
Local tradition claims that the first building on the site belonged to St Patrick's father, Calpurnius, a Scottish noble who settled there to avoid Saxon forces who were invading Britain.
"At that time, this place was called Bonavenna de Tiberio. I was dumbfounded. In 'St Patrick's Confession' he told us he was taken captive when Irish pirates attacked his father's house at 'Bannavem Tiburniae' in Latin."
The names bear an uncanny resemblance and three other place names mentioned in St Patrick's writings also tie in with areas around the Chateau de Bonaban.
Rev Losack would like to see an archaeological excavation carried out on the chateau as a way of confirming his theory.
He is currently in negotiation with the new owners of the chateau, a hotel consortium from Indonesia, to see if this is possible. "Our traditional understanding of St Patrick's origins is wrong," he told the Irish Independent.