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Was Saint Patrick a slave-trading tax collector?
A man dressed as Saint Patrick waves to spectators during the 2010 Sydney St. Patrick's Day Parade.
March 17th, 2012
10:20 AM ET

Was Saint Patrick a slave-trading tax collector?

By Nick Thompson, CNN

(CNN) - While Saint Patrick's Day has long been the preserve of Guinness-drinking revellers painting the world's towns green while wearing shamrock hats, Irish Catholics have always taken pride in their nation's patron saint.

Now a new study from Cambridge University based on his writings suggests Saint Patrick was not brought to Ireland as a slave, as the legend has it, but that in fact he may actually have sold slaves his family owned to pay his way to Ireland - in order to avoid a job as a tax collector for the Roman empire.

The findings fly in the face of the classic account of the life of Saint Patrick, who grew up as a member of the Roman nobility in western Britain and was supposedly abducted and forced into slavery in Ireland around 400 A.D. According to this history, Patrick escaped and became a priest before having a vision and returning to Ireland to convert the Irish to Christianity.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Holidays

soundoff (132 Responses)
  1. Laurar Yedida

    Thanks for your post. What I want to comment on is that while looking for a good internet electronics store, look for a web site with comprehensive information on important factors such as the personal privacy statement, security details, any payment guidelines, and various terms plus policies. Always take time to see the help in addition to FAQ sections to get a greater idea of how the shop performs, what they are able to do for you, and just how you can make use of the features.

    July 29, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  2. Ronnie12345

    tom tom the bigot's son

    May 14, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  3. Christianity is not healthy for children and other living things

    Christianity makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Read about it at http://santorum.com
    Christianity takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Christian prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Christianity prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Christianity makes you fat.
    Christianity wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Christianity contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Christianity fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Christianity can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Christianity makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. See http://santorum.com to learn more.
    Christianity reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Christianity exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Christianity makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Christianity makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Christianity makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Christianity gives you knobbly knees.
    Christianity dulls your senses.
    Christianity makes you post really stupid shit.
    Christianity makes you hoard cats.
    Christianity makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Christianity wastes time.

    March 20, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  4. catholic engineer

    How ironic. A man named George, who founded a country based on "liberty and justice for all" owned slaves until he died. THis was about 1400 years after St. Pat.

    March 20, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Christianity is not healthy for children and other living things

      Christianity makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Read about it at http://santorum.com
      Christianity takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
      Christian prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
      Christianity prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Christianity makes you fat.
      Christianity wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Christianity contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Christianity fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
      Christianity can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Christianity makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. See http://santorum.com to learn more.
      Christianity reveals how stupid you are to the world.
      Christianity exposes your backside to pervert priests.
      Christianity makes you think doilies are exciting.
      Christianity makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
      Christianity makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
      Christianity gives you knobbly knees.
      Christianity dulls your senses.
      Christianity makes you post really stupid shit.
      Christianity makes you hoard cats.
      Christianity wastes time.

      March 20, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,
    Proven
    Powerful

    March 20, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • Jesus

      More lies on top of more lies. You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!! .. .. .. ... .. .

      March 20, 2012 at 8:36 am |
  6. Prayer changes things

    Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    March 19, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Prayer changes things"

      You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!! .. .. .. ...

      March 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    March 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Jesus

      You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!! .. ... .. ..

      March 19, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  8. WASP

    ok really i don't think anyone gives two shillings as to st.patrick's real life. it's a day to have fun and get drunk............just like most american holidays. so smile and enjoy the ride; it ends way too soon. happy late st.patty's day. 🙂

    March 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  9. Urafkntool

    this guy sounds to me like he's top full of white hate and white guilt. He needs to be reeducated.

    March 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  10. Reality

    Irish beer even in Patty's day caused visions. Now we label them hallucinations akin to JC's resurrection.

    March 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  11. gerald

    Ah historical revisionism. Isn't it grand. The further away from the story the more we can twist it based on our modern day prejudices.

    March 19, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      For you, "modern day" = 1950.

      March 19, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  12. hippypoet

    fiction can be fun but i find the truth to be far more enlightening!

    March 19, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  13. Rational Libertarian

    I like snakes and I hate Christianity, so that pretty much makes Saint Paddy one of my least favourite historical figures.

    March 19, 2012 at 9:00 am |
    • WASP

      lol

      March 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things .

    March 19, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • Jesus

      You've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning...

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!

      March 19, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  15. truth

    37Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:

    “Lord, who has believed our message

    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”g

    39For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

    40“He has blinded their eyes

    and deadened their hearts,

    so they can neither see with their eyes,

    nor understand with their hearts,

    nor turn—and I would heal them.”h

    41Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

    42Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.

    44Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. 46I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

    47“As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. 48There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. 49For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

    --------------------------–

    March 19, 2012 at 2:57 am |
  16. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you fat.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    March 18, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    March 18, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      sorry everyone, one of the loonies escaped...

      March 18, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • AGuest9

      Nah, Atheism is not just lyin is a regular here.

      March 18, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @ Booty: Is Keith here? "Skeptically analyzing" while seated at the public library?

      March 18, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven

      March 18, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Jesus

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!!! .. ....

      March 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven
      Powerful

      March 18, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Prayer changes things
      Proven
      Powerful"

      You've been proven a LIAR regardless of the handles you use. There are many Christians that are rotting in jail because prayer was proven not to work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested Friday morning,

      March 18, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • just sayin

      You are a joke, you post a wonderful Truth and follow up with a lie, the light of Truth obscures the darkness of the lie. Laughing at you not with you.

      March 18, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Jesus

      "You are a joke, you post a wonderful Truth and follow up with a lie, the light of Truth obscures the darkness of the lie. Laughing at you not with you.'

      That's because you've been proven a LIAR again and again on this blog.

      March 18, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Jesus

      "You are a joke, you post a wonderful Truth and follow up with a lie, the light of Truth obscures the darkness of the lie. "

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      March 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Real Deal

      Take heart, folks, we are doing the world a favor by keeping @just sprayin' busy here, in a place in which he/she is so easy to ignore. One of my friends was recently relaxing in the hot tub at the gym when two Christians started preaching to him - "Are you saved, Brother?" A fifteen-minute diatribe followed from the gnats. Sheesh!

      March 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer got me off crack.

      March 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Prayer got me off crack."

      More proof prayer didn't work, you're still messed up in the head.

      March 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • just sayin

      You can't even tell when you are responding to a phony. If you ever thought you had credibility that blew it right there. Not laughing with you laughing at you.

      March 18, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Jesus

      "You can't even tell when you are responding to a phony. If you ever thought you had credibility that blew it right there. "

      More delusions...who's who? or do you even know who's posting and who's not.... or are their multiples of everyone.. time to take more crack.

      March 18, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Oh, that's simple, we know that we are ALWAYS responding to a phony!

      March 19, 2012 at 6:52 am |
  18. just sayin

    It is common practice for atheists to steal names and post. They only fool idiots like themselves with these tactics. Theft ,lying,hatred and when given political power, murder. These are the proven hallmarks of atheism. As foe me and my house we will serve the Lord.

    March 18, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      christians hate facts. like that atheists commit less crimes than christians. fact. look it up. about 14% of the country is atheist/agnostic/non-believer, yet only .2% of inmates in prison are atheist/agnostic/non-believer. statistics show atheists are less likely to commit crimes. atheists also have a lower rate of divorce, a higher IQ and know more about the bible than christians. these are facts, something the bible has very little of.

      March 18, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      try thinking for yourself. it's the most liberating feeling in the world. free yourself from the mental shackles of religion.

      March 18, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • just sayin

      Your stats amount to squat, the proofs are on this page and the murdering nature of the unrestrained atheist is shown in history by people like Stalin. The reason stats are "low " in prison are varied. First, there are just not that many atheists in this country, second, having a "faith" expedites parole and we already know an atheist is never limited by the Truth.

      March 18, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • just sayin

      Free yourself from the shackles... ? Isn't that what Karl Marx advocated. Tell us how is that commie thingy working out for the USSR?
      President George H W Bush said an atheist is not a patriot and should not be considered a citizen of The USA. We are one nation under God.

      March 18, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • AGuest9

      "Your stats". OK. let's take a look at how many "find god" in prison versus becoming atheist. Ironic, eh?

      March 18, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "Your stats amount to squat."

      Sez the muttonhead who doesn't have any.

      March 18, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Don Camp

      You can do almost anything with stats. How is "Christian" defined? How is "Atheist?"

      Most Christians know that there is "Christian" and then there is "Christian." There are people who are Christians by culture; often I find them posting here. They act self-righteous. They demonstrate no love. They defend Christianity by resorting to the world's language and methods. They are little different from the Atheists who post here, just of a different opinion.

      The true Christian is one who acts like Jesus; it is part of the definition.

      Do Christians end up in jail? Very rarely. Christians in jail are often foxhole Christians, people who find themselves in serious trouble and resort to God as a final hope. Sometimes these people are genuine. Sometimes they are manipulative. For the genuine, they are people who are coming back to their faith roots after a detour into practical atheism. I give them credit for recognizing their errors and repenting. For the manipulative, well, criminals are often sociopaths. This wouldn't be anything new.

      March 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • momoya

      People who call themselves "christian" are just using the term to justify their opinion as larger than themselves.. "What you think is right and wrong is subject to what I think is right and wrong, not the other way around.". Atheism takes coura.ge; you've got to admit that although your ideas have their own power, they are not automatically perfect and the "will of god," and those ideas have to survive or fail according to how useful they are to others.. It's more than happy circ.umstance that a christian's ideas always match with what they determine to be god's will.

      March 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer put me back on the wagon.

    March 18, 2012 at 3:20 am |
    • just sayin

      But I'm still off my rocker.

      March 18, 2012 at 4:32 am |
  20. just sayin

    All you Irish f.a.g.s can suck it. I would no more celebrate "St. Patricks Day" as cut off my own fingers. What a bunch of drunk losers you all are. F you all.

    March 17, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Saint Leppo, who drove the aardvarks out of Ireland centuries ago, when Saint Patrick drove the snakes out and Saint Larry drove out the saints, being a bit unclear on the concept. But we had whiskey, so it was a fine day of driving things out of Ireland

      You Americans and your arseways English, ya are so hard to understand. I don't think you are full shilling. I mean, why are you mad at Irish fags, which you yanks call cigarettes?

      You're definitely a plonker!

      March 17, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Keith, izzat you, ya buzzard?

      March 17, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Bo

      WOW! what’s your gripe,or this just the way you are when you tipped too much?

      March 17, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • bill

      careful....be very careful.

      March 18, 2012 at 2:42 am |
    • Bible Bob, Knight of Infallibillibabbity

      Okay, mister smart-mouth gonna-sizzle-in-the-lake-of-fire atheist, prove that there WASN'T a Saint Leppo! Prove that there weren't aardvarks and snakes in Ireland when Leppo and Patrick were around! Prove that St. Patrick and St. Leppo DIDN't drive them out of Ireland! You can't do it, can you wise guy?

      That means that my theory that there were aardvarks and snakes back then is every bit as probable as your theory that there wasn't, and don't give me no sass about no evidence ever being found, because that doesn't prove it wasn't so.

      I've got me ancient dusty book that proves it so, called "The Cat In The Hat Sees An Aardvark And A Snake In Post-Roman Ireland." The book says it's true, so it is. It also says that we true believers will be mocked and ridiculed, which is proof positive that we are right and everyone else is wrong.

      Blasphemer!

      March 18, 2012 at 4:53 am |
    • just sayin

      Tom, tom name thief strikes again.

      March 18, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah, I wrote all the posts. Every one of them. Even that last one. Neener, neener.

      March 18, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Did not.

      March 18, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • just sayin

      Nuh-uh.

      March 18, 2012 at 11:40 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.