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was born, simply because the Saint gives the name of Bonaven, or
Bononia, as the city of his birth. St. Fiacc does not name Nemthur as a
town; he simply tells us that St. Patrick was born at Nemthur, which,
as has been proved, was both the name of the Caligula's tower and of
the district in which that tower stood in the suburbs of Bonaven. The
Scholiast is the first to call Nemthur a town, and evidently puts it
down as the ancient name of Alcluid, or Dumbarton. This is the obvious
meaning of the scholion: "Nemthur est civitas in septentrional!
Britanni nempe Alcluida." Nemthur is a city in northern Britain, namely
Alcluid. The "nempe Alcluida" looks very much like an interpolation,
and if an interpolation, the statement of the Scholiast that Nemthur is
a city in northern Britain, without the addition "nempe Alcluida,"
might easily refer to Northern Britain in Gaul where, however, Nemthur
was not the name of a city, but the name both of a tower and of the
district of the city where St. Patrick was born.

Neither the Scholiast, nor those who have adopted his views as to the
Saint's birth at Dumbarton, have ever answered Lanigan's challenge, who
boldly states that the name Nemthur is not to be found in Nennius's
"List of British Towns," which Usher himself had illustrated, nor in
any of the old "Itineraries," or in Ricardus Corinensis, or in Camden,
or Horsley &c. (vol. i, b. 3, p. 91).

The learned Cardinal Moran, in the March of the _Dublin Review_, 1880,
endeavoured to take up the gauntlet and answer Lanigan's challenge by
quoting one of Taliessin's poems from the "Black Book of Carmarthen,"
which represents a Welsh hero sailing away with an army to Scotland and
recovering his lost inheritance in a battle fought and won at Nevthur
in Clydesdale.

Besides the fact that no small stretch of imagination is required to
believe that Nevthur and Nemthur are one and the same, nearly all the
poems attributed to Taliessin are regarded as spurious by learned
critics, as Chamber's "Encyclopaedia," under the heading Welsh
Literature, evidently points out.

"Mr. Nash, the author of 'Taliessin and the Bards and Druids of Wales,'
enables us to form an independent judgment on this point, for he
translates some fifty of the poems, and we find that, instead of their
exhibiting an antique Welsh character, they abound in allusions to
mediaeval theology, and frequently employ mediaeval Latin terms. It is
certainly unfortunate for the reputation of the 'Chief of Bards' that
the specimens of his poems, which are considered genuine, possess
exceedingly small merit. The life of this famous but over-rated genius
is, of course, enveloped in legend." Lanigan's challenge, therefore,
still remains unanswered, and a town mamed Nemthur is not to be found
in any ancient history, geography, or map. The error, therefore, of the
Scholiast consisted in stating that Alcluid and Nemthur were identical,
but his statement that St. Patrick was captured in Armorica is
historically true.


THE following account is given in the "Trepartite Life" concerning St.
Patrick's native town, and the country from which he was taken
captive: -

"Patrick, then, was of the Britons of Alcluid by origin. Calphurn was
his father's name. He was a noble priest. Potit was his grandfather's
name, whose title was a deacon. Conceis was his mother's name. She was
of the Franks, and a sister to St. Martin. In Nemthur, moreover, was
the man Patrick born. . . .

"The cause of Patrick's coming to Erin was as follows: 'The seven sons
of Fachmad, namely - the seven sons of the King of Britain - were on a
naval expedition, and they went to plunder Armoric Letha; and a number
of Britons of Strath-Cluaidh were on a visit with their kinsmen - the
Britons of Armoric Letha - and Calphurn, son of Potit, Patrick's father,
and her mother Conceis, daughter of Ocbas of the Gauls, that is of the
Franks, were killed in the slaughter in Armorica. Patrick and his two
sisters, viz. Lupait and Tigris, were taken prisoners, moreover, in
that slaughter. The seven sons of Fachmad went afterwards to sea,
having with them Patrick and his two sisters in captivity. The way they
went was around Erin, northwards, until they landed in the north, and
they sold Patrick to Miluic, son of Baun, that is, the King of

"They sold his two sisters in Conaille Muirthemne. And they did not
know this. Four persons, truly, that purchased him. One of them was
Miluic. It was from this that he received the name Cothriage, for the
reasons that he served four masters. He had, indeed, four names" (W. M.
Hennessey's Translation of the "Trepartite Life").

The author of the "Trepartite Life" repeats the contradictory
statements of the Scholiast, namely, that St. Patrick was born at
Dumbarton and captured in Armorica, and it stands refuted by St.
Patrick himsel in his "Confession," who declares that his father hailed
from Bonaven, where the Roman encampment stood, and that he himself was
captured whilst residing at his father's villula, or country seat,
close by the town. Just as we are bound to credit St. Patrick's
"Confession;" the statements of the Scholiast, and of the author of the
"Trepartite Life," that he was simply on a visit to his relatives in
Armorica when captured, must be discredited.

Ignoring the fact that the author of the "Tripartite Life" and Probus
tell the same tale, the Archbishop of Tuam, in his excellent "Life of
St. Patrick," states "that the Scholiast on St. Fiacc whilst expressly
declaring that Nemthur, St. Patrick's birthplace, was in North Britain,
namely, Ail Cluade, adds that young Patrick, with his parents, brother
and sisters, went from the Britons of Ail Cluade over the Ictian Sea,
southwards, to visit his relatives in Armorica, and that it was from
Latevian Armorica that Patrick was carried off captive to Ireland. The
Scholiast here confounds the Armoric Britons of the Clyde with the
Armoric Britons of Gaul, or Letavia, who had no existence then at so
early a date. No doubt they were kindred Britons, but the name
Britannia and Britons were not at that time given to Armorica of Gaul"
(Appendix i., p. 585).

Nothing is here said by His Grace about Probus or the "Tripartite
Life," who agree with the Scholiast that the Saint was captured in
Armorica. When treating of Britannia in Gaul, it will be proved from
the "Sacred Histories of Sulpicius Severus" that Armorica was called
Britannia when the Council of Ariminium was held in the year 359. It is
evident, however, that the author of the "Tripartite Life" was firmly
convinced that St. Patrick was captured in Armorica, from the
description he gives of the flight of his captors: "The seven sons of
Fachmad went afterwards on the sea, having with them Patrick and his
two sisters in captivity. The way they went was northward around Erin,
until they landed in the north, and they sold Patrick to Miluic."

From this narrative it is evident that the captives were carried by the
fleet northwards around Erin until they arrived in the neighbourhood of
Lough Larne, Antrim, where St. Patrick was sold as a slave. The captors
afterwards sailed southwards and sold St. Patrick's sisters at Louth.
They must, therefore, as Father Bullen Morris surmises, have sailed
around the western coast of Erin after sailing away from Armorica. It
is clear, as the same writer does not fail to observe, that such a
course cannot fit in with the Dumbarton theory: "A voyage northwards
from the mouth of the Clyde would take the Irish fleet to the North
Pole" ("Ireland and St. Patrick," p. 26).

The Scholiast and the author of the "Tripartite Life" are of opinion
that St. Patrick was made captive by the seven sons of Fachmad, King of
Britain, who are represented as making a raid into Armorica. Jocelin
declares that the capture was made by pirates. The Second, Third, and
Fourth "Lives" are unanimous in stating that the Saint was captured by
the Irish Scots. St. Patrick's own words in the Epistle to Coroticus,
"Have I not tender mercy on that nation which formerly took me
captive?" leave no doubt as to his capture by the Irish Scots. Colgan
endeavours to harmonise both accounts by suggesting that the sons of
Fachmad were British exiles in Ireland, who fought under the standard
of King Niall when he invaded Armorica, and that they may have been the
actual captors of the Saint.


As the Second and Third "Lives of St. Patrick" are practically and
almost verbally identical up to the end of Section XL, the same
translation up to that point will suffice for both.

"Patrick was born at Nemthur. He had a sister named Lupita, whose
relics are preserved at Armagh. Patrick was born in the Field of Tents.
It was called Campus Tabernaculorum because the Roman army, at some
time or other, pitched their tents there during the cold winter season.

"IV. - The boy, however, was reared at Nemthur. . . .

"XI. - This was the cause of his exile and arrival in Ireland: An army
of Irish Scots embarked, as usual, in their ships, and forming a large
fleet sailed over to Britain, and brought back from thence many
captives and carried them to Ireland, the captives numbering altogether
one hundred of both sexes. Patrick was, as he himself testifies, in his
sixteenth year at that time."

The following addition is given in the Third "Life": "Patrick, who was
also called Suchet, was sprung from the British nation, and his country
and the place where he was born was situated not far from the sea. His
father's name was 'Calburnius,' the son of a venerable man named
Potitus; but his mother, Conches by name, was the daughter of
Dechusius. Both parents of this holy man were devoted to religion."

Controversially speaking, neither of these two "Lives" are of any
value. Nemthur is not identified with Dumbarton, and it is not clearly
stated whether the Irish fleet raided the island of Britain or
Armorican Britain, or whether St. Patrick was descended from the Island
or Armorican Britons. A recent writer lays much stress on the fact that
the British word Tabern is used to denote a tent field in the Second,
Third, and Fourth "Lives," but the argument does not carry with it much
weight, for according to Camden the British and Gaulish Celts spoke the
same language, so that it is just as favourable to Armorica as to the
island of Britain (" Britannia," vol. i., p. 11).


"SOME say that St. Patrick was of Jewish origin. After Our Lord had
died on the Cross for the sins of the human race, a Roman army,
avenging His Passion, laid Judea waste, and the captive Jews were
dispersed amongst all the nations of the earth. Some of their number
settled down among the Armorican Britons, and it is stated that it was
from them that St. Patrick traced his origin." This may be gathered
from the book of Epistles composed by himself, "on account of our sins,
and because we had neither observed the precepts of the Lord nor obeyed
His Commandments, we are dispersed to the uttermost ends of the earth."

"But, however, it is more credible and more certain that he speaks of
that dispersion into which the Britons were driven by the Romans, in
order that they might become possessed of the land near the Tuscan Sea
which is called Armorica. After that dispersion, therefore, his parents
went straight to Strath Clyde. There St. Patrick was conceived and
born, his father being 'Kalburnius,' and his mother Conchessa, as he
testifies in the book of his Epistles: 'I am Patrick, the son of
Kalburnius, and Conchessa is my mother.' St. Patrick was, therefore,
born in a town called Nemthur, which signifies a heavenly tower. This
town was situated in Campo Tabernise, which is called the Field of
Tents because, at one time, the Roman army pitched their tents there.
In the British tongue Campus Tabern is the same as Campus

"XV. - But the first cause of his coming to Ireland, and the sequence of
events which hurried him there, are not to be passed over in silence.
By the divine providence of God, it so happened that in his tender
years he should be led to that nation, so that in his youth he should
learn the language of the people, whose apostle he was afterwards
destined to become. At that period Irish fleets were accustomed to sail
over to Britain for the sake of plunder, and to bring back to Ireland
whomsoever they made prisoners. It chanced, therefore, that the
venerated youth, with his sister, named Lupita, should be taken
captives amongst others. Some have written that the Saint at the time
was but seven years of age. It seems to me, however, more credible what
he himself states: 'When I fell into captivity I was sixteen years of
age.' He was taken to Ireland and sold in the northern regions to four
brothers, whom he served with a simple and devout heart. On that
account he was called Cothraigh. But he had four names, for he received
the name of Suchet at baptism; he was called Magonius by Germanus,
Bishop; lastly, when he was elevated to the Episcopal dignity, he
received his fourth name, Patrick."

It is suggestive how the Armorican tradition seems to manifest itself,
either directly or indirectly, in nearly all the "Lives" of the Saint
which are considered the best; in St. Fiacc's, in the annotations of
the Scholiast, in the "Tripartite Life," in the Fourth "Life," and in
the Fifth by Probus. In the Fourth "Life" it is stated that both
parents of the Saint were Armorican Britons, and that St. Patrick,
except for the accident of his place of birth, was an Armorican Briton.
The author of the Fourth "Life," moreover, calls Calphurnius and
Conchessa Armorican Britons, which serves to demonstrate that Armorica,
even in the early years of St. Patrick, fell under the name of
Britannia, and that its inhabitants were called Britons.

In this "Life" is to be found the mistake of the Scholiast, and of the
other "Lives" who have adopted his suggestion, that Nemthur was the
name of a town, and not of a tower or district, as may be gathered from
the history of the tower itself.

The Second, Third, and Fourth "Lives" of the Saint, however, "are
filled with fables," according to Canon O'Hanlon. "Their acts seem to
have been either borrowed from one another, or are copies of versions
taken from the same source" ("Lives of the Irish Saints," March 17th).


"THERE was a man named Calphurnius, the son of Potitus, a presbyter, by
nation a Briton, living in the village Taburnia (that is the Field of
Tents), near the town of Empthor, and his habitation was nigh unto the
Irish Sea. This man married a French damsel named Concuessa, niece of
the blessed Martin, Archbishop of Tours, and the damsel was elegant in
her form and in her manners, for, having been brought from France with
her elder sister into the northern parts of Britain, they were sold at
the command of her father. Calphurnius being pleased with her manners,
charmed with her attentions, and attracted by her beauty, very much
loved her, and from the state of serving maid in his household, raised
her to be his companion in wedlock. And her sister, having been
delivered unto another man, lived in the aforementioned town of

"And Calphurnius and his wife were just before God, walking without
offence in the justifications of the Lord, and they were eminent in
their birth, and in their faith, and in their hope, and in their
religion. And though in their outward habit and abiding they seemed to
serve under the yoke of Babylon, yet did they in their acts and in
their conversation show themselves citizens of Jerusalem. Therefore out
of the earth of their flesh, being freed from the tares of sin and from
the noxious weeds of vice by the ploughshare of evangelic and apostolic
learning, and being fruitful in the growth of all virtues, did they, as
the best and richest fruit, bring forth a son, whom, when he had at the
font put off the old man, they caused to be named Patritius, as being
the future father and patron of many nations; of whom, even at his
baptism, the God that is Three in One was pleased by the sign of a
threefold miracle to declare how pure a vessel of election should he
prove, and how devoted a worshipper of the Holy Trinity. But after a
little while, this happy birth being completed, they vowed themselves
by mutual consent unto chastity, and with a holy end rested in the
Lord. But Calphurnius-first served God a long time in the deaconship,
and at length closed his days in the priesthood. . . ."

Chapter XII. - "As, according to the testimony of Holy Writ, the
furnace tries the gold, so did the hour of trial draw near to Patrick
that he might the more provedly receive the crown of life. For when the
illustrious boy had perlustrated three lustres, already attaining his
sixteenth year, he was, with many of his-fellow-countrymen, seized by
the pirates who were ravaging the borders, and was made captive and
carried into Ireland, and was there sold as a slave to a certain pagan
prince named Milcho, who reigned in the Northern parts of the island,
even at the same age when Joseph is recorded to have been sold in
Egypt. . . ."

Chapter XVII. - "And St. Patrick, guided by his angelic guide, came to
the sea, and he there found a ship that was to carry him to Britain,
and a crew of heathens, who were in the ship, freely received him, and
hoisting their sails with a favourable wind, after three days they made
land. And, being come out of the ship, they found a region deserted and
inhabited by none, and they began to travel over the whole country for
the space of twenty-eight days; and for want of food in that fearful
and wild solitude were they perishing of hunger" (Jocelin's "Life of
St. Patrick," translated by E. L. Swift).

Jocelin's "Life of St. Patrick" deserves the harsh sentence pronounced
upon it by Canon O'Hanlon: "It is incomparably the worst" of all the
Latin "Lives" of the Saint. Jocelin represents Conchessa, St. Patrick's
saintly mother, as a niece of St. Martin of Tours, and, almost in the
same breath, suggests that either St. Martin's brother, or his brother-
in-law, sold Conchessa and her elder sister to Calphurnius, a Briton of
Clydesdale, as slaves. Although Conchessa was sold as a slave "at the
command of her father," she is said to have succeeded in captivating
and marrying her master Calphurnius.

Whilst Ware and Usher sneer at Jocelin's statement that Calphurnius and
Conchessa took the vow of celibacy and devoted themselves to a
religious life immediately after St. Patrick's birth, they eagerly
adopt Jocelin's statement that the Apostle of Ireland was born at
"Empthor," and that the home of The Sixth "Life," Calphurnius was "not
far from the Irish Sea," although this untrustworthy author stands
alone among the ancient writers in making this assertion.

Although Jocelin is responsible for the statement that St. Patrick fled
to the island of Britain after his escape from captivity in Ireland,
the subsequent three days' voyage by sea and twenty-eight days' journey
by land before reaching his home are fatal to Jocelin's contention, as
Professor Bury clearly demonstrates.

Ware's Empthor was near Dumbarton; Colgan's, Dumbarton itself; Usher
and the "Aberdeen Breviary" identify it as Kilpatrick; Cardinal Moran
rests sure that it is Hamilton, at the mouth of the Avon in Scotland;
but St. Patrick's ship, chartered by Heaven to carry him to his "own
native land," could, if any of the places named were St. Patrick's
native town, have borne him directly almost to his destination, and
saved part at least of the three days' journey by sea and the whole of
the twenty-eight days' journey by wilderness before joining his


THE Fifth "Life," written by Probus, an Irish monk, who died at Meyence
in the year 859, is regarded as the best of the old Latin "Lives" of
St. Patrick; it is considered to be an amended edition of the "Book of
Armagh," written by Muirchu Macc-Mactheni, so truly that the blank left
by the missing folio in that famous book can be filled in by copying
the "History of Probus." (Canon O'Hanlon's "Lives of the Irish Saints,"
March 17th.)

The "Life of St. Patrick," by Probus, commences as follows: -

"Cap. I. - St. Patrick, who was also called Suchet, was a Briton by
nationality. . . . He was born in Britain [in Britanniis], being the
son of Calphurnius, a deacon, who was the son of Potitus, a priest, and
his mother was named Conchessa, in a district within the region of
Bannaue Tiburniae, not far from the Western Sea, which district, as we
have discovered beyond doubt, was situated in the province of Nentria,
where the giants are said to have formerly dwelt."

"XII. - When he was in his own country with his father Calphurnius and
his mother Conchessa, in their own seaside city [city Arimuric] there
was a great outbreak of hostilities in these parts. The sons of King
Rithmit, coming from Britain, laid Arimuric and the surrounding country
waste. They massacred Calphurnius and his wife Conchessa; but their
children, Patrick and his brother Ruchti, together with their sister
Mila, they took captives to Ireland. They sold Patrick to Prince
Milcho, but his brother Ruchti and his sister Mila to another Prince."

Colgan, in his annotations, substitutes Neutria for Nentria (4), and
Armorica for Arimuric, Caesar testifies that all the towus on the sea
coast of Armorica were called Armoricse (Britannia, vol i. p. 13). "In
his own city Armuric" has therefore been rendered "in his own seaside

When Probus wrote his history there was no province in existence called
either Nentria or Neutria; but there was a province called Neustria,
which embraced Armorica or the northern sea coast of Gaul, where St.
Patrick was residing in his own native country (in patria) with his
parents, when he was made captive. It follows, likewise, that St.
Patrick's native town, "Bannaue Tiburnise," according to Probus, was
the seaside city in Armorica referred to. The Bannaue Tiburniae of
Probus and the Bonaven Taberniae of St. Patrick are evidently one and
the same as Bononia, where the Romans were encamped, which, as it has
already been proved, was called Bonauen Armorik by the Gaulish Celts.

If any other proof were needed, the description of the province given
by Probus as the country formerly inhabited by giants can leave no
doubt on the subject.

Sammes, in his "Antiquities of Ancient Britain," published in 1676,
narrates that the Scythians, or Cymri, were called the offspring of
Magog by Josephus. Pouring out in mighty hordes from Scythia, they
sacked Rome and plundered the Temple of Apollo in Greece. Some of them
settled down in Sarmatia, Germany, and Northern Gaul, generally
adopting the name of the lands in which they settled. Strabo is quoted
as saying "that the very youths (of the Cymri) were half a foot taller
than the tallest men," and Manlius for declaring "that the Cymri were a
race so exceedingly tall that other nations seemed nothing in their
eyes." The same authority narrates that "when one of the Cymri stood in
the ranks he seemed of the same proportion as the others, but when he
stepped out a few paces, and came near to the Romans, they all began to
be amazed at the sight." On that account the Roman soldiers, as Caesar
admits, were filled with consternation at the giants they were called
upon to encounter when he marched against their leader, Ariovistus. The
Cymri were also remarkable for their exceeding swiftness. Csesar
witnessed that they "could lay their hands on the manes of horses and
keep pace with them in the race." Tully testifies that it was "their
joy and delight to die on the battlefield, and that nothing so
tormented them as to die idly in their beds." "No wonder," says Sammes,
"that they conquered many nations; distressed the Romans themselves,
and were a constant thorn in the side of the Gauls" ("Antiquities of
Ancient Britain," cap. 2).

Dr. Smith, in his "History of France," narrates that the Cymri
"acquired permanent possession of an extensive territory north of the
Loire, including the peninsula of Armorica" (p. 13). Bononia, or
Boulogne, St. Patrick's native town, was, therefore, situated in Belgic
Gaul during the days of Julius Caesar; but, later on, when the
descendants of the Cymri, the Belgic Gauls, were almost annihilated in
their fierce contests with the Romans, the same province came to be
called Armorica. Sulpicius Severus, as we shall see presently, named

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