From The National Catholic Register-
I can hear the howls of outrage. But before you grab torches and pitchforks and head over to my house, give me a moment. Obviously, Patrick was not an atheist when he began his world-changing missionary work. Yet by his own admission, there was a time in his life when his likelihood of ever being venerated as a saint was nil.
In 401, the great St. Augustine of Hippo wrote the Western world’s first autobiography, his Confessions. A few decades later St. Patrick followed suit, although, sadly, Patrick’s Confession is not nearly as detailed as Augustine’s. Nonetheless, it is full of interesting information about Patrick’s family, his youth, and a near-apostolate-destroying scandal that turned his fellow bishops against him.
Patrick tells us he was born in a Roman settlement called Bannavern Taburniae on the British side of the Irish Sea. More than that we do not know—archaeologists have never found the site. Patrick’s mother, Concessa, and his father, Calpornius, were devout Christians who brought their son up in the faith and taught him the Scriptures. Calpornius was a deacon; his father, Potitus, had been a priest. In spite of his parents’ best efforts, Christianity made no discernible impact on Patrick. Late in life when he wrote his Confession he recalled his youth and admitted candidly, “I did not believe in the living God.”
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