Was St. Patrick Married?

Stained glass window depicting St. Brigid receiving her veil from St. Mel

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No, there is no historical or hagiographical evidence to suggest that St. Patrick had a wife. That’s not to say, however, that he didn’t take an interest in members of the opposite sex.

Case in point: After baptizing a woman from an elite family—who, in some accounts, turns out to be one of Ireland’s other patron saints, St. Brigid—Patrick reflects on how attractive she is. As Thomas Cahill explains:

“[Patrick’s] love for his adopted people shines through his writings, and it is not just a generalized ‘Christian’ benevolence, but a love for individuals as they are. He tells us of ‘a blessed woman, Irish by birth, noble, extraordinarily beautiful (pulcherrima)—a true adult—whom I baptized.’ Who could imagine such frank admiration of a woman from the pen of Augustine?”

source: How the Irish Saved Civilization

While seemingly innocuous, this is a highly unusual observation for a Catholic bishop to make. And it ties into a broader historical theme of Patrick not really caring too much about chastity. To quote Cahill:

“Where, in Patrick’s own story, is there any negative treatment of the temptations of the flesh? … It may simply be that Patrick, in his zeal to baptize—to wash clean—Irish imagination, was not as sex-obsessed as his continental brethren and felt little need to stress these matters… Even the monasteries he established were not especially notable for their rigid devotion to the rule of chastity; and as late as the end of the twelfth century… the kings of Clan Conaill continue to be inaugurated in the high style of their ancestors—by public copulations with a white mare.”

source: How the Irish Saved Civilization

Want to learn more about Saint Patrick? Check out…

Saint Patrick in Your Pocket

Separate man from myth, fact from folklore, in this small but mighty pocket guide dedicated to uncovering lesser-known facts about Ireland’s most beloved patron saint. Armed with answers to these 20 tantalizing questions, you’ll be the smartest reveler in the room at your next Saint Patrick’s Day party. Learn more…

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