Saints and Scholars

During Saint Patrick’s weekend, a television programmes caught my eye and proved worth the watch.

 

It was a documentary on the life and work of the illustrious Saint Himself. Not only was Patrick, as a Roman citizen born in Britain, an unlikely candidate for Irish sainthood, he was also pretty wayward in his teachings an practises once he did manage to get the established Christian authorities to accept and train him as a monk. His scholarship is legendary due to the prolific writings and reflections he left in his wake, indeed we are told by some of the many experts interviewed fopr the programme that Irish monastic scholarship was the main promoter of the written word in early medieval Europe. Yet at the core of Patrick’s work lay the welfare of the people, both economic and spiritual, and his lack of gender discrimination in recruiting followers was also truly ahead of his time!

 

Through his earlier cultural immersion, Patrick was able to relate to the native Irish on their own terms and with due respect to their existing cosmologies and deities, was accepted, listened to and ultimately followed by the people who were his onetime enslavers.

 

Most striking however is the evident epiphany, almost ‘enlightenment’ experience he had as an isolated and lonely young slave who developed a mystical connection with God through nature and meditative prayer and had prescient and directive dreams and visions. These experiences gave him a deep and intense meaning and mission in life, to bring his mystical form of Christianity to the Irish. As such, I am minded of Jung’s concept of the hero’s journey which he saw as a potential in every human who is prepared to allow the unconscious to erupt. The programme can be viewed in several parts on youtube, the first instalment at

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=Lu1DQx4tUSQ

 

 

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