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Saint Patrick Retold

The Legend and History of Ireland's Patron Saint
Written by: Roy Flechner
Narrated by: Gerry O'Brien
Length: 7 hrs and 59 mins
Price: CDN$ 24.53
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Publisher's Summary

A gripping biography that brings together the most recent research to shed provocative new light on the life of Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick was, by his own admission, a controversial figure. Convicted in a trial by his elders in Britain and hounded by rumors that he settled in Ireland for financial gain, the man who was to become Ireland’s patron saint battled against great odds before succeeding as a missionary. Saint Patrick Retold draws on recent research to offer a fresh assessment of Patrick’s travails and achievements. This is the first biography in nearly 50 years to explore Patrick’s career against the background of historical events in late antique Britain and Ireland. 

Roy Flechner examines the likelihood that Patrick, like his father before him, might have absconded from a career as an imperial official responsible for taxation, preferring instead to migrate to Ireland with his family’s slaves, who were his source of wealth. Flechner leaves no stone unturned as he takes listeners on a riveting journey through Romanized Britain and late Iron Age Ireland, and he considers how best to interpret the ambiguous literary and archaeological evidence from this period of great political and economic instability, a period that brought ruin for some and opportunity for others. Rather than a dismantling of Patrick’s reputation, or an argument against his sainthood, Flechner’s biography raises crucial questions about self-image and the making of a reputation. 

From boyhood deeds to the challenges of a missionary enterprise, Saint Patrick Retold steps beyond established narratives to reassess a notable figure’s life and legacy.

©2019 Roy Flechner (P)2019 Princeton University Press

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  • FrdinD
  • 2019-03-31

Yet Another Cynical Debunk

So, everything you thought you knew about St. Patrick is wrong. He didn't convert Ireland (Christianity pre existed his arrival), he wasn't taken captive and brought there as a slave (he was fleeing civic obligations), he was, in fact, a slave OWNER in Ireland, and the whole shamrock thing was a cheap medieval invention. Expressions of devotion to him are overwrought and silly. If you're a cynic longing to poke holes and find how most every element of St. Patrick's story was ACTUALLY naked self interest, this is your book.

Fletcher does have some good historical asides, and has the ability to build enlightening contexts. O'Brien is a worthy reader, Latin pronunciation aside, who clearly understands what he's reading and inflects appropriately.

But I found myself wondering why Fletcher wrote the book... condescendingly to relieve believers of their simplistic, benighted credulity? If so...ok... but that's not how it's marketed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful