There is an obscure prophecy attributed to St. Patrick which appears to foretell the previously unthinkable - a time when Ireland would lose its faith in Christ. Sadly, this prophecy pretty much describes the current state of our beautiful island, which to a large extent, is now shunning the Roman Catholic faith. What was once before a inextricable part of Irish national identity, is now subject to the calumny of the growing anti-clericalism in the Irish media, which has now filtered out into wider society. The prophecy appears in chapter CLXXV of the vita by the Cistercian hagiographer Jocelyn of Furness (fl. 1175-1214):
The different States of Hibernia are in a Heavenly Vision
shown unto the Saint.
(See here for the full vita of St. Patrick by Jocelyn of Furness)
It is uncertain whether this prophecy was actually made by St. Patrick himself, since it does not appear in the earlier works on the saints life. The other more well-known prophecy of St. Patrick (which foretold that Ireland would suffer from a terrible deluge seven years before the end of the world to spare the Irish from the reign of the Antichrist) is of far greater provenance. (See the earlier post St. Patrick and the End-Time Flood of Ireland). But it certainly interesting, given the current state of affairs in Ireland.
Jocelyn attempts to make sense out of the prophecy by linking it to the appearance of the Viking invaders, who ravaged the coasts of Ireland in the early Middle Ages. The light in "Ulydia" (an archaic name for Ulster) which brings about the reversal of the apostasy is rightly connected by Jocelyn to St. Malachy, who was the abbot of Bangor Abbey in the north of Ireland, just outside of Belfast (unfortunately, nothing of the original building remains of Bangor Abbey today, other than a stump of a wall in the grounds of the modern Anglican abbey). St. Malachy had ensured unity of the Church in Ireland with the Roman Catholic Church by travelling to Rome to obtain pallia for the sees of Armagh and Cashel. And in his famous account of the saint's life, St. Bernard of Clairvaux tells how St. Malachy had helped to restore the Church in Ireland, which had fallen into a terrible state of decay.
The above prophecy is based on the story of the St. Patrick lighting the Paschal Fire on the Hill of Slane in 433AD, in opposition to the pagan festival of Beltane practised by Laoghaire, the High King of Tara. This defiant action was an instrumental moment in the conversion of Ireland.
This prophecy attributed to St. Patrick also appears to be associated with the Great Apostasy foretold in Scripture, which speaks of a general falling away of Christians from the faith towards the end of the world. It is interesting then that the reversal of the apostasy in Ireland is associated with St. Malachy - whose famous prophetic mottoes "Glory of the Olive" and "Peter the Roman" seem to connect the Angelic Pope to the Two Witnesses of Rev 11. Could this be once again pointing us towards the importance of the Worthy Shepherd in renewing the faith worldwide?
To see the work of St. Patrick being reversed in such a terrible fashion is something cruel to behold for any true Irish person. But through the intercession of St. Patrick, the once fiery zeal of the Irish faithful will one day return to the shores of our beloved land, and the religion which our ancestors strived and died to protect will once again reflourish on the verdant pastures of the Emerald Isle.
Hail, Glorious St. Patrick
Hail, glorious Saint Patrick, dear saint of our Isle,
On us thy poor children bestow a sweet smile;
And now thou art high in the mansions above,
On Erin's green valleys look down in thy love.
Hail, glorious Saint Patrick, thy words were once strong
Against Satan's wiles and an infidel throng;
Not less is thy might where in heaven thou art;
O, come to our aid, in our battle take part.
In the war against sin, in the fight for the faith,
Dear saint, may thy children resist unto death;
May their strength be in meekness, in penance, their prayer,
Their banner the cross which they glory to bear.
Thy people, now exiles on many a shore,
Shall love and revere thee till time be no more;
And the fire thou hast kindled shall ever burn bright,
Its warmth undiminished, undying its light.