Thursday 23 March 2017

When did Saint Patrick die?

The vexed question of the chronology of Saint Patrick which we looked at yesterday affects the date of his death as much as the date of his arrival in Ireland. Once again there are competing theories among biographers old and new, but just as AD 432 became the accepted date of his arrival, AD 461 became an accepted date for his death. Indeed just as in 1932, 1961 was celebrated in Ireland as a 'Patrician Year'  with the Patrician Congress 'marking the 1,500th anniversary of the death of St Patrick with all the panoply of a State visit' as a contemporary report in the Irish Times put it.  AD 461 was not universally accepted, however,  as Dáibhí Ó Cróinín briefly summarizes:
This confusion about the date of Patrick's arrival was also reflected of course in the controversy surrounding the date of his death: some gave it as having taken place in AD 461, others in AD 493, some annals indeed gave more than one date for the saint's death.
Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, 'Saint Patrick', in A .J. Hughes and W. Nolan, eds., Armagh: History and Society - Interdisciplinary Essays on the History of an Irish County (Dublin, 2001), 56.

Tomorrow I hope to look at one of the most interesting aspects of the chronology of Saint Patrick, the relationship between the timing of his mission and that of Saint Palladius.

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