St. Patrick and the Snakes
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by Leta Nolan Childers
Category: Classic Literature
Description: Based on Irish myths and fables. St. Patrick and the Snakes recounts the tale of the celebrated saint's trials in bringing Christianity to Ireland and freeing the island of snakes. Fictionalized Celtic Myth.
eBook Publisher: DiskUs Publishing,
eBookwise Release Date: February 2011
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [27 KB]
Reading time: 14-19 min.
St. Patrick and the Snakes
Patrick braced himself against the wind, ignoring the biting cold of the ocean spray lapping against his feet and pelting his face, nearly freezing the long strands of his beard. He leaned heavily against his staff, fighting the fatigue that beckoned him to just lie down and forget his mission, forget that he had reached his personal pinnacle. What happened next would either free the people from their pagan notions or banish them forever to the darkness.
The journey to this craggy and barren mount had been long and arduous, farther than just to his childhood in Scotland, longer than just the torment of being kidnapped, forced into slavery, the dangerous escape and finally finding his mission as a priest of the Church. Yet, Patrick realized that it had been God's will to test him so sorely, to strengthen his resolve and his purpose to come to this moment.
"Thy will be done," he cried softly, the words carried away by the wind. There was no need to look behind him; he sensed the crowd and its excitement building as they huddled behind rocks and in crannies seeking shelter from the raw spring day. They'd been following him for days, as word of his intention swept before him as he trudged slowly and silently to this place.
The King of the Celts and his Druid priest stood at the bottom of the rocky tor upon which he stood. "Look, Ailill," the king jeered, "the man who would banish you and your kind stands fearful, knowing his duplicity will be found out." Both men laughed, the echoing sound of their triumphant mirth bringing anguish to Patrick's heart.
Would he fail? Had he come all this way just to fall flat on his face, a failure to himself and his God? It was possible. The challenge placed before him by Ailill seemed nearly impossible. Rid the isle of all serpents and snakes. And he understood just why Ailill felt a personal vendetta against God's lowliest creatures. It had been the venomous taste of a serpent's fangs that had robbed him of his mother and father, struck dead as they lay in their hut peacefully sleeping. It had only been a miracle that Ailill had escaped the same fate, lying as a babe between his parents as the serpent struck. It had slithered away into the dark of the night as his mother fought against the pain searching her small son's body for any sign that he'd been attacked, while his father writhed and screamed in pain. Though he was too young to remember it, they'd died, holding him and each other within minutes, their screams rousing the entire clan from their beds. It was the Druids who'd taken him in, washed his soiled body, found a wet nurse for him to suckle and raised him as one of their own to become one of them. But he'd never forgotten his childish need for his mother's embrace or her soft voice or his father's strong arm to teach and guide him.