The Top 10 Books About St. Patrick

stained glass window in St. Patrick's cathedral showing a scribe with a quill

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Look, I get it: You’ve probably been inundated with St. Patrick’s Day content already.

So while I’d usually use this space to give a brief biography of St. Patrick (the so-called “Apostle of Ireland,” who was born Maewyn Succat circa 385 C.E. in a Roman settlement, probably in Wales, who was kidnapped and enslaved in Ireland at age sixteen for six years before escaping from and then returning to Ireland to preach Christianity, possibly at the behest of the Pope, possibly not), I’m going to skip the formalities and get right down to business:

Do you want to learn more about St. Patrick?

As much as I’d like to think that my exhaustive musings on St. Patrick are sufficient in providing you, dear reader, with an encyclopedic knowledge of him, I know that this is not the case. So if you’re looking for a deeper understanding of the man, the myth, the legend—who may or may not have battled druids or dressed in green or used shamrocks to each pagans about the the Trinity—check out this list of popular books about St. Patrick.

Fair warning: Yes, some of them are kids’ books. Because kids’ books are awesome.

The 10 Best Books About St. Patrick

1a) The World of Saint Patrick

by Philip Freeman

Per the publisher: “The legend of Saint Patrick is irresistibly captivating-he drove the snakes out of Ireland, battled the druids, and used the three-leaf Shamrock to convert the pagan Irish to belief in the Christian Trinity. Yet, as so often happens, these stories are mere myths that fold under closer scrutiny. Snakes never plagued the Irish countryside, and the Emerald Isle’s most beloved saint wasn’t even Irish but a Briton of the Roman nobility. Fortunately, the truth is even more fascinating. In The World of Saint Patrick, classical scholar Philip Freeman offers the definitive account of Saint Patrick’s life through new and vibrant translations of the greatest works of early Christian Ireland.” Learn more…

1b) St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography

by Philip Freeman

Per the publisher: “Ireland’s patron saint has long been shrouded in legend, but the true story of St. Patrick is far more inspiring than the myths. In St. Patrick of Ireland, Philip Freeman brings the historic Patrick and his world vividly to life. Patrick speaks in his own voice in two remarkable letters he wrote about himself and his beliefs, new translations of which are included here and which are still astonishing for their passion and eloquence.” Learn more…

2) Let Me Die in Ireland, the True Story of Patrick

by David W. Bercot

Per the publisher: “Practically everyone in the western world has heard of the man called St. Patrick. But hardly anyone knows anything about him. About the only two things that more people ‘know’ about Patrick is that he was Irish and Roman Catholic. In truth, he was neither. He was British, and he belonged to the autonomous Celtic church. Although Patrick is the most famous person of his age, the real man has been buried in a cloud of myths. Myths such as: He used the shamrock to explain the Trinity. He was sent to Ireland by the Pope. He was a wonder-worker who staged miraculous duels with the Druids. Let Me Die In Ireland cuts through all of the myths about Patrick and presents the authentic, stirring account of one of the greatest missionaries who ever lived.” Learn more…

3a) Ireland’s Saint: The Essential Biography of St. Patrick

by J. B. Bury

Per the publisher: “Explore Patrick’s place in history, the spread of Christianity beyond the Roman Empire, how Patrick first came to Ireland, the influence of the earlier Palladius on Patrick’s work, political and social conditions at that time, and the spiritual battles with the Druids. This 21st century edition includes notes from other notable biographers, mystics, historians, and storytellers of Ireland and is an ideal place to begin any exploration of this much loved but little-known saint.” Learn more…

3b) The Life of St. Patrick and His Place in History

by J. B. Bury

Per the publisher: “The Life of St. Patrick and His Place in History is the first truly authoritative biography of Saint Patrick’s life and a well researched study of the times in which he lived in. Saint Patrick was a fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Known as the “Apostle of Ireland”, he is the primary patron saint of Ireland. Contents: • On the Diffusion of Christianity Beyond the Roman Empire • The Captivity and Escape of Patrick • In Gaul and Britain • Political and Social Condition of Ireland • In the Island-Plain, in Dalaradia • In Meath • In Connaught • Foundation of Armagh and Ecclesiastical Organisation • Writings of Patrick, and His Death • Patricks Place in History.” Learn more…

4) The Life of Saint Patrick

by Quentin James Reynolds

Per the publisher: “A biography of the British boy, captured by raiding Irish warriors at age sixteen, who performed miracles, ended the power of the Druid priests over the Irish people, and converted the Irish kings and their people to Christianity.” (Children’s Book) Learn more…

5) Saint Patrick Retold: The Legend and History of Ireland’s Patron Saint

by Roy Flechner

Per the publisher: “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 fifty years to explore Patrick’s career against the background of historical events in late antique Britain and Ireland.” Learn more…

6) Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland

by Tomie dePaola

Per the publisher: “An illustrated tribute to the Irish patron saint from the best-selling author of Quiet, Strega Nona, and many others. This timeless picture book, available in large-format paperback or as the board book Saint Patrick, is a perfect introduction to important Irish legends and an ideal St. Patrick’s day gift. Beloved children’s book author-illustrator Tomie dePaola recounts the life of Saint Patrick—from his noble birth in Britain, to his captivity in Ireland, to the visions which led him to return and found the first Christian church in Ireland.” Learn more…

7) Patrick

by Stephen Lawhead

Per the publisher: “Set in an era of brutal conflict and turmoil, this epic adventure is the first novel to tell the full story of the slave who became a saint, of the man who rose to the challenge of his time and changed the course of history. In the summer of 405AD, Irish raiders attack the western coast of Wales, carving a fiery swathe through the peaceful countryside. Among the survivors who are rounded up and taken back to Ireland is Succat: an impulsive sixteen-year-old son of a powerful Roman family.” (Fiction) Learn more…

8) The Story of St. Patrick

by James A. Janda

Per the publisher: “Tells of the young fourth-century Irish boy who grew up to be a priest, and who was canonized as St. Patrick after his death. Ages 5-8. Prisoner, slave and saint! Even though a lot of people celebrate the day of the wearing of the green, few know the actual story of this remarkable and exciting man.” Learn more…

9) A Man Cleansed by God: A Novel based on the Life of Saint Patrick

by John Edward Beahn

Per the publisher: “The story of St. Patrick’s life is a dynamic tale of high drama and intense spiritual force. A generation ago, the American Catholic novelist John Edward Beahn retold that story as a biographical novel based on The Confession, Patrick s famous autobiographical work. A Man Cleansed by God: A Novel on St. Patrick’s Confession was published in 1959, a vivid narrative with intriguing speculations about the details of Patrick s experience that have been lost to history.” Learn more…

10) Saint Patrick: A Life From Beginning to End

by Hourly History

Per the publisher: “Just who was Saint Patrick? Many know him as the figure behind the huge festival of fun and drinking that takes place every on March 17. But look a little more closely and see that there is more to the patron saint of Ireland than meets the eye. Inside you will read about…✓ From Slave to Bishop ✓ The Feast at Tara ✓ Ireland’s First Martyr ✓ Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus ✓ Confessio: A Brief Look ✓ The Death of Saint Patrick. The saint we know as the reason for a holiday is much more significant than readers know.” Learn more…

*Shameless plug alert!

*Bonus Book: 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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