Ireland's Saint: The Essential Biography of St. Patrick
by J.B. Bury w/Jon M. Sweeney
Reviewed by Clint Walker
Ireland's Saint is a classic biography on the life of St. Patrick. First published over 100 years ago, people still regard this fine work as authoritative and the standard on telling the story of the ministry of St. Patrick. Bury was a scholar of the Greek and Roman Imperial history, and his study of the Early Church's expansion to the Emerald Isle is an outgrowth of that academic interest and its relation to his part of the world. For a person wanting to sift through the history from the legend, and to know more about Patrick than a few fanciful stories, this is a great book to have.
The book has some helpful, albeit rather expansive editorial helps from Jon Sweeney. First, Mr. Sweeney moves the summaries of Patrick's life and ministry, and its lasting impact to the front of the book. This, in my opinion, is a wonderful decision. One first sees the power of Patrick's story with this change, and then is left seeking to know more.
Another thing that Sweeney does is insert little annotations in side bars throughout the book that point to issues of discussion among religious folks or scholars, as well as highlighting some of the best of Bury's thought and work.
The text is relatively short. A small paperback that one could easily make their way through quickly. Pick this book up now, while it is on sale ($3 right now at Paraclete's web site), and then read it during Lent as you lead up to St. Patrick's day.