At present I am revising a manuscript for a story very dear to my heart - one that I did a huge amount of research for and spent a long time writing. It isn't easy to revise, since the subject spent large amounts of time alone, or cut off from those around him for reasons of language, status and age. He wasn't an easy man to find either, he is now so hidden behind legends, fairy tales and mythology that you have to dig deep and wide to find the truth. What emerges is a man far more interesting than any legend about him can ever be.
So who is he?
The name Magnus Sucatus Patricius probably doesn't mean a great deal to many, but those are the real names of the man we know today as St Patrick. It is his story that I am trying to tell from his own eyes and mouth. It has been and still is, an 'interesting' experience. There have been times when I have searched and searched for the right words or the right scenario for certain events he has left hints at (Two documents known to have been written by him survive) only to have the story almost write itself, often in a direction and a place I had not considered.
My own sketch of how he probably appeared early in his mission. I have depicted him in garments typical of the people he came to minister to, the usual depictions of him show him in 14th or 15th Century vestments. The Mitre now worn by Bishops did not come into use until at least four centuries after his death and the idea that he was a monk arose two centuries later when the monastic movement was in the ascendancy for control of the Church of Rome.
One of the surprises in researching this was the discovery, that contrary to the generally accepted statement that very little written material exists from this period, there is a wealth of it. Almost a surfeit of it in fact, though some is not easy to access and much is of little help in looking at a man who came from England (Britannia Prime which at that time included what we today call Wales), was of minor noble birth and lived through the period in which Roman power and influence was waining rapidly. Indeed, he was probably the victim of the power vacuum as Rome withdrew to fight its civil wars in Gaul and then of the turbulence that followed the invasions of the winter of 407 AD. There is almost enough material in just his lifespan to qualify for a Doctoral Thesis!
Now I must continue my revision. I have an editor waiting to see what needs further correction once I have finished. I am currently revising Chapter 15 of 48, so there is a way to go yet.
I begin to think a 48 hour day would be useful ...