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suburbs of a town called Bonaven, where there was a Roman encampment,
and that, when a youth in his fifteenth year, he was taken prisoner by
the Irish Scots, "the nation to whom he showed tender forgiveness." The
very year of his capture corresponds with the raid of Niall of the Nine
Hostages into Armorica. As the Irish Scots invaded that country just
when St. Patrick had attained his fifteenth year, and as the Saint
declared that he had been taken prisoner by men of the nation which he
had converted, it is more than probable that he was taken prisoner
during that raid.

As Bononia, or Boulogne-sur-Mer, was called Bonauen by the Gaulish
Celts, and as the "v" and "u" are convertible in Gaelic, the Bonauen of
the Gaulish Celts and the Bonaven of St. Patrick's "Confession" may
well be one and the same place. Indeed, there are arguments which seem
to place their identity beyond reasonable doubt.

St. Fiacc declares that the Apostle of Ireland was born at Nemthur.
Now, Nemtor was the name given by the Gaulish Celts to Caligula's tower
in the suburbs, and close to the City of Bononia, or Boulogne. St.
Fiacc, therefore, gives the name of the district - for the district
about Nemthur was named after the prominent landmark in its midst, and
St. Patrick the name of the town in the suburbs of which he was born.

According to the Celtic legend, Calphurnius was a Roman officer in
charge of the tower, and was slain on the occasion when his son Patrick
was made prisoner by the Irish Scots.

A close examination, however, of the "Confession" and of the old Latin
lives of the Saint, will, it seems to us, securely determine which of
the four theories - the Scotch, the Welsh, the English, or the French -
concerning St. Patrick's native country, carried with it the greatest
amount of probability.


THIS will appear evident from a close study of the "Confession": "Ego
Patritius, peccator, rustissimus et minimus omnium fidelium, et
contemptabilissimus apud plurimos, patrem habui Calphurnium diaconum,
filium quondam Potiti, presbyteri, qui fuit vico Bonaven Taberniae,
villulam enim prope habuit ubi ego in capturam dedi. Annorum tune eram
fere XVI."

"I, Patrick, a sinner, the most uncultured and humblest of all the
Faithful, and, in the eyes of many, the most contemptible, had for
father Calphurnius, a deacon, and the son of Potitus, a priest, who
hailed from the suburbs of Bonaven, where the encampment stood, for he
possessed a little country seat close by, from whence I was taken
captive when I had almost attained my sixteenth year."

The primary meaning of "vicus" is a district, or a quarter of a city,
and "villula" signifies "a little country seat" (Smith's "Latin and
English Dictionary"). The district of the city of Bonaven alluded to
was evidently suburban, because the house in which Calphurnius and his
family dwelt was a "little country seat," which was, nevertheless,
close to ("prope") the town.

The Saint must have had some special reason for writing the name of his
native town in Gaelic, while the rest of the "Confession" is written in
Latin. There was a very important town in Armorican Britain at the
time, which was called Bononia by the Romans, and Bonauen by the
Gaulish Celts (Hersart de la Villemarque Celtic Legend, pp. 3, 4). In
the days of Julius Caesar its harbour was called Portus Ictius
("Dictionnaire Archeologique et Historique du Pas de Calais").

O'Donovan, who translated the "Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the
Four Masters," assures us in a note, under the year 405, that Niall of
the Nine Hostages was assassinated by the banished Prince Eochaidh at
Muir N'Icht, which the translator identifies as Bononia, or Boulogne-
sur-Mer. Keating, on the other hand, narrates that King Niall received
his mortal wound on the banks of the Loire. It is easy to reconcile the
apparent difference between the two accounts, if we assume that the
wounded Monarch was carried in a dying state to join the fleet which
lay at anchor in the fine bay which then formed the outer harbour of
Boulogne, and that he had at least the consolation of dying on board
his own ship.

Muir N'Icht, or Portus Ictius, then possessed the finest harbour in
northern Gaul. From the days of Julius Caesar, Portus Ictius, or the
harbour of Boulogne, was the port from which the Roman troops sailed to
Britain, and the harbour to which they steered on their return. On top
of Caligula's tower there was a lighthouse for the guidance of vessels
at sea. The very fact that King Niall made use of this harbour when he
raided Armorica in the twenty-seventh year of his reign, makes it
likely that he sailed into the same harbour when first invading that
country in the ninth year of his reign. The sons of the soldiers who
took part in the second raid were still alive; and the memories of both
expeditions were still fresh in the minds of the brave Irish Scots when
St. Patrick wrote his "Confession."

The records of both expeditions were undoubtedly read at the annual
Feast of Tara, when the Kings, nobles and learned were accustomed to
meet annually and examine the National records (Keating, pp. 337 - 388).

The triumphant march of devastation made by the Irish Monarch in the
ninth year of his reign, when he led his troops "from the walls of
Antoninus to the shores of Kent"; the successful raid into Armorica
which commenced with the capture of the Roman encampment at Haute
Ville, Boulogne, and ended in the plundering of the surrounding
country, must have been the burden of many a warlike song whenever the
Irish minstrels chanted the glorious triumphs of King Niall's
invincible troops. It is, therefore, but natural to suppose every man,
woman, and child in Ireland had often heard the name of Bonaven, where
the soldiers of King Niall stormed the encampment, and where the
ever-conquering Monarch expired.

St. Patrick, who, according to the "Scholiast," the Fifth and
Tripartite Lives, and Heating's "History" (p. 312), was captured in
Armorica, and who, according to Hersart de la Villemarque and Dr.
Lanigan, was taken captive at Boulogne, was well aware that every
Irishman would know the town to which he was referring when he declared
in his "Confession" that his father, Calphurnius, and consequently he
himself, hailed from the suburban district of Bonaven Taberniae, or
Bononia, where the Roman encampment stood.


THE ancient records of Bononia, or Boulogne-sur-Mer, date back to about
half a century before Christ - to the time when Julius Caesar,
anticipating Napoleon the Great, stood on the north-eastern cliffs of
that town gazing through the Channel mist on the dim outline of that
Britain which he had resolved to subjugate.

At that period two headlands stretched out into the sea for a distance
of three miles - one on the northeastern side of the town, near to what
is now known as Fort la Cresche; and the other from Cape Alpreck, about
three miles lower down on the south-western coast. These headlands,
stretching out into the sea, so encircled a bay as to form it into an
outward haven.

The inner harbour of Boulogne was approached by a narrow channel
dividing the north-eastern from the south-western cliffs; and the
waters of the bay, flowing through it and uniting with the River Liane
in covering the present site of the lower town, rushed onwards as far
as the valley of Tintelleries and the vale of St. Martin.

Facing the site of the present town there was an island called Elna,
and on it was built the ancient town of Gessoriac, which was connected
with the mainland by a bridge. Realising the future importance of the
place both for naval and military purposes, Caesar commissioned Pedius,
a native of Bononia, in Italy, to lay out a town on the declivity of
the Grande Rue, leading to Haute Ville, as the upper town and the hill
leading to it are called at the present day. (Bertrand's "History of
Boulogne-sur-Mer," pp. 17, 18. "Walkernaer's Geography," vol. i., p.

The walls of the present fortifications of Haute Ville, built in the
thirteenth century, rest on the ancient foundations of the old Roman
encampment. This fact was proved at the time when a tunnelling was made
for the railway from Boulogne to Calais under Haute Ville
("Dictionnaire Historique et Archeologique du Pas de Calais," vol. i,
p. 22). The circuit of the present fortifications, about 700 yards
square, present to-day the appearance pf the old Roman encampment. "The
camp of a Roman legion," writes Gibbon, "presented all the appearance
of a fortified city. As soon as the place was marked out, the pioneers
carefully levelled the ground and removed every impediment that might
interrupt its perfect regularity. It forms an exact quadrangle, and we
might calculate that a square of 700 yards was sufficient for the
encampment of 20,000 Romans, though a similar number of our troops
would expose to an enemy a front of more than treble its extent. In the
midst of the camp the pretorium, or general's quarters, rose above the
others; the cavalry, the infantry, and the auxiliaries occupied their
respective stations; the streets were broad and straight, and a vacant
of 200 feet was left on all sides between the tents and the ramparts.
The rampart itself was usually twelve feet high, and defended by a
ditch twelve feet in depth, as well as in breadth. This important
labour was performed by the legionaries themselves, to whom the use of
the spade and the pick-axe was no less familiar than the sword and the
pilum" ("Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," vol. i., p. 27.) This
gives a faithful description of the Roman encampment (Castra Stativa)
at Boulogne, which is described by St. Patrick as Bonaven Tabernise, or
Bononia, where the Roman encampment was pitched. Bononia, according to
Bertrand's "History of Boulogne," was regarded by the Romans as their
"principal dockyard" in Northern Gaul; and Suetonius, in his "Lives of
the Twelve Caesars," describes it "as the port from which the Roman
legions successively departed for Britain" (p. 283, note).

Many err in supposing that Gessoriac and Bononia were one and the same
town, originally called Gessoriac, and later, that is to say during the
reign of Constantine the Great, known as Bononia. It is true, however,
that during that Emperor's reign Gessoriac also came to be called

It is well to observe that the Morini, or inhabitants of the coast in
the neighbourhood of Boulogne, were converted to Christianity by St.
Firmin about the close of the second century; and that St. Fusian built
a chapel on the banks of the River Liane, which flows through Boulogne,
in the year 275.

St. Patrick, in his "Confession," represents himself and the fellow-
citizens of his youth as Christians who had not observed the
Commandments of God, and who had not been obedient to their priests. At
that time the Northern Britons were pagans; St. Ninian, who flourished
about the year 400, was the first missioner who preached the Gospel to
the Dalraida and Southern Picts. They could not, therefore, have been
described in the year 388, when St. Patrick was made captive, as
Christians who had ceased to practise their religion. "I knew not the
real God," writes St. Patrick, "and I was brought captive to Ireland
with many thousand men, as we deserved, for we had forgotten God and
had not kept His Commandments, and were disobedient to our priests, who
admonished us for our salvation. And the Lord brought down upon us the
anger of His Spirit, and scattered us amongst many nations, even to the
ends of the earth, where now my humble self may be witnessed among
strangers" ("Confession").


GIBBON narrates that about the middle of the fourth century the "sea
coast of Gaul and Britain were exposed to the depredations of the
Saxons" (vol. i., P- 739); and Bertrand, in his "History of Boulogne,"
admits that the city was plundered by the Saxons in the year 371, but
that the invaders spared Caligula's tower and lighthouse on account of
its usefulness for their safe navigation. The silence of local history
concerning two raids made by the Irish Scots into Armorica in the years
388 and 402 is not surprising, seeing that French writers admit that
there is practically no history of Armorica or more than a century
after the Saxon raid in the year 371. Gibbon, however, in his history
of the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," narrates that "the
hostile tribes of the North, who detested the pride and power of the
King of the World, suspended their domestic feuds, and the barbarians
of the land and sea, the Picts, the Scots, and the Saxons, spread
themselves with rapid and irresistible fury from the walls of Antoninus
to the shores of Kent" (vol. i., p. 744). Keating supplements this
information by describing the two raids made by the Irish Scots into
Armorica; the first of which took place in the year 388, and the second
in 402, or about that time. This Irish historian is considered by
Professor Stokes to be a most trustworthy authority. "Keating," writes
the Professor, "had access to the Munster Documents, which are now
lost. He gives a long account of the Irish invasions of England and
France exactly corresponding to the statements of the Roman historian,
Amianus Marcellinus, and to the 'Annals of the Four Masters'" ("Ireland
and the Celtic Church," p. 38, note).

Of the raids of King Niall into Armorica the first is the more
interesting, for it proves, first, that St. Patrick was born in the
year 373, and, next, that he was captured neither in North Britain, nor
Wales, but in Armorican Britain.

To escape from these conclusions, Doctor Lanigan, who held that St.
Patrick was born in the year 387, writes as follows: "I find in Keating
but one expedition of Niall to the coast of Gaul, during which he says,
in another place, that St. Patrick with two hundred of the noblest
youth were brought away. . . . This event occurred in the latter end of
Niall Naoigiallach's reign, and not as early as the ninth year of it.
. . . We have no authority," continues Lanigan, "for his having visited
Gaul at any time until the period already given, and which is clearly
marked in Irish history. Our Saint's captivity may be assigned to 403,
and to a time not long prior to King Niall's death. Thus the date of
his birth and captivity, considering the circumstances now mentioned,
help to confirm each other, and, combined with his age at consecration,
authorizes his birth in 387" ("Eccl. Hist, of Ireland," vol. i., pp.
137, 138).

Contrary to what Dr. Lanigan has just stated, a close study of
Keating's "History" will prove that King Niall made two raids into
Armorica, the first in the ninth and the second in the twenty-seventh
year of his reign, and the account of the two expeditions is clear and
unmistakable. "There is an old manuscript in vellum, exceedingly
curious, entitled 'The Life of St. Patrick,' which treats likewise of
the lives of Muchuda Albain and other Saints, from which I," writes
Keating, "shall transcribe a citation that relates to St. Patrick.

"Patrick was a Briton born and descended from religious parents," and
in the same place is the following remark: "The Irish Scots, under
Niall the King, wasted and destroyed many provinces in Britain in
opposition to the power of the Romans. They attempted to possess
themselves of the northern part of Britain, and, at length, having
driven out the old inhabitants, these Irish seized upon the country and
settled in it." The same author (of the manuscript) upon this occasion
remarks that from henceforth Great Britain was divided into three
kingdoms, that were distinguished by the names of Scotia, Anglia, and

This ancient writer likewise asserts that when Niall, the hero of the
Nine Hostages, undertook the expedition for settling the tribe of the
Dailraida in Scotland, the Irish fleet sailed to the place where St.
Patrick resided; "At this time the fleet out of Ireland plundered the
country in which St. Patrick then lived, and, according to the custom
of the Irish, many captives were carried away from thence, among whom
was St. Patrick, in the sixteenth year of his age, and his two sisters,
Lupida and Darerca; and St. Patrick was led captive into Ireland in the
_ninth_ year of the reign of Niall, King of Ireland, who was the mighty
monarch of the kingdom for seven-and-twenty years, and brought away
spoils out of England, Britain, and France."

"By this expression it is supposed," continues Keating, "that Niall of
the Nine Hostages waged war against Britain or Wales, and perhaps made
a conquest of the country; _and it is more than probable_ that, when
the Irish Prince had finished his design upon the kingdom of Wales, he
carried his arms in a fleet to France and invaded the country at the
time called Armorica, but now Little Brittany, and from thence he led
St. Patrick and his two sisters into captivity.

"And this I am rather induced to believe, because the mother of St.
Patrick was sister of St. Martin, the Bishop of Tours in France; and _I
have read in an ancient Irish manuscript, whose authority I cannot
dispute, that St. Patrick and his two sisters were brought captive into
Ireland from Armorica, or Brittany_, in the kingdom of France. It is
evident likewise that when Niall, the King of Ireland, had succeeded
with the Britons, he despatched a formidable fleet to plunder the coast
of France, and succeeded; and that he carried away numbers of captives
with him into captivity, one of which, it is reasonable to suppose, was
the young Patrick, who was afterwards distinguished by the name of the
Irish Saint.

"Niall, encouraged by the number of his captives and the success of his
arms in France, _resolved upon another expedition_, and accordingly
raised a grand army of his Irish subjects for that purpose, and sent a
commission to the General of the Dalraida in Scotland to follow him
with his choicest troops and assist him in the invasion. Niall having
prepared a sufficient number of transports and a full supply of
provisions, weighed anchor with his victorious Irish, and _steering his
course directly to France_, had the advantage of a prosperous wind, and
in a few days landed upon the coast. He immediately set himself to
spoil and ravage the country near the river Loire. Here it was that the
General of the Dalraida found him, and both armies being joined, they
committed dreadful hostilities, which obliged the inhabitants to fly
and leave the country to the mercy of the invaders.

"The commanding officer of the Dalraida in this expedition was Gabhran,
the son of Dombanguirt, who brought over with him Eochaidh, the son of
Ena Cinsalach, King of Leinster. This young Prince had been formerly
banished into Scotland by Niall, but resolving to be revenged when
opportunity offered, he desired to be admitted as a volunteer in the
service, and was by that means transported into France. The King of
Ireland being informed of his arrival, would on no account permit him
to visit him, nor suffer him in his presence. But Eochaidh soon found
an opportunity to execute his design; for one day, perceiving the King
sitting on the banks of the Loire, he hid himself secretly in an
opposite grove on the other side, and shot Niall through the body with
an arrow; the wound was mortal, and he died instantly" ("General
History of Ireland," pp. 311 - 313). According to O'Donovan's
translation of "Muir N'Icht," Niall lived long enough to reach his
fleet at Boulogne, where he expired.

Notwithstanding, then, Lanigan's positive assertion, it is quite
evident from Keating's history that King Niall twice invaded Armorica;
first, after he had devastated the Island of Britain in the ninth year
of his reign, when St. Patrick was captured, and again in the twenty-
seventh year of his reign, when he sailed directly from Ireland to Gaul
and expired at Boulogne.

The events may be briefly stated as follows: Niall succeeded Criomthan
in the year 376. In the ninth year of his reign, or A.D. 385, he
prepared an expedition against the Picts, who were harassing the Scots
settlers in North Britain. Having completed his task, he overran
England, and finished his raid by crossing over to Armorica, before
returning triumphant to Ireland with St. Patrick amongst his captives.

Now St. Patrick, who was born in the year 373, passed his thirteenth
and fourteenth years while King Niall was chastising the Picts in
Scotland and ravaging Britain; but he had reached his fifteenth year in
the year 388, when the Irish fleet sailed from Armorica to Ireland. The
words of the Saint in his Epistle to Coroticus: "Have I not tender
mercy towards the nation which formerly took me captive," place the
Saint's capture by the Irish Scots beyond doubt, whilst they confirm
Keating's declaration that King Niall captured St. Patrick in his first
raid to Armorica.

The capture of the Saint in Armorica is confirmed by the Scholiast, by
the Tripartite Life, and by Probus. St. Patrick, as we have already
seen, was captured while residing at his father's "villula" in the
suburban district of Bonaven Tabernise, or Bononia, where the Roman
encampment stood. This account harmonises with the "Celtic Legend,"
which narrates that at that period, "when Bononia was invaded by the
Irish pirates, a mutiny broke out among the soldiers in the encampment,
which rendered the city an easy prey to the invaders. Calphurnius, the
Roman officer defending Caligula's tower, was slain, and his son
Patrick was carried into captivity" ("La Legende Celtique per le
Vicomte Hersart de la Villemarque," p. 8).

According to the "Book of Sligo," as has been seen already, the Apostle
of Ireland first saw the light of day on Wednesday, April 5th; not on
Wednesday, April 5th, 372, as Usher imagined, for, as Ware points out,
April 5th did not fall on Wednesday, 372, but on Wednesday, 373. There
is overwhelming evidence to prove that St. Patrick died in the year
493, having attained the 120th year of his age. Usher, Ware, the
Tripartite Life, the "Vita Secunda," the "Vita Quarta," the "Leabhar
Braec," the "Annals of the Four Masters," the "Annals of Innisfail,"
the "Book of Howth," the "Annals of Tigernasch," the "Chronicon
Scotorum," the "Annals of Boyle," Marianus Scotus, Nennius, Geraldus
Cambrensis, Florence of Worcester, and Roger of Wendover all maintain
this. The year of the Saint's birth may, therefore, be accurately
obtained by subtracting 120 from 493, the date of his death. This
process will show that St. Patrick was born in 373, and captured in the
very year of King Niall's raid into Armorica, 388, when the Saint had
attained his fifteenth year.

The great age of the Saint at the time of his death, although
marvellous, is not incredible. In Chambers' "Book of Days," quoted by.
Father Bullen Morris, instances are given of 2,003 centenarians, 17 of
whom lived 150 years. Father Montalto, a Jesuit, who was born in 1689,
was present at the Church of the Gensu at Rome in the 125th year of his
age, when Pius VII. re-established the Society of Jesus. In 1881 the
photograph of Gabriel Salivar was sent to the Vatican as the oldest
inhabitant of the world. It was proved on convincing evidence that he
had reached 150 years. Thomas Parr, as is well known, attained the age
of 152 years and nine months before he bade adieu to the world.


"AND on a certain night I heard in sleep a voice saying to me: 'Thou
fasteth well; fasting thou shalt return to thy own native country'"
(patria). "And again, after a little, I heard a response, saying to me:
'Behold thy ship is ready'" (St. Patrick's "Confession").

St. Fiacc suggests, Probus asserts, and Professor Bury admits that St.
Patrick, after his captivity, fled to Gaul, and not to Great Britain.
Gaul, therefore, and not the Island of Britain, was St. Patrick's
native land.

If either Northern or Southern Britain were St. Patrick's native
country, it seems incredible that the-Saint should be required to
travel a distance of 200 Roman miles, from the North-East to the West
of Ireland, in order to embark for Britain, when Lough Larne is but 30
nautical miles from Scotland,, and not more than 15 miles from Mount
Slemish, and while Belfast and Strangford Loughs were within easy
distance of the place of his captivity, and more suitable for
embarkation than any seaport in the West of Ireland if North Britain
were his destination.

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