The author of a new book has claimed that St Patrick was a native of Brittany in France and not Britain, as is generally accepted.
The County Wicklow based Church of Ireland clergyman Rev Marcus Losack made the claim after years of research.
Well known religious journalist Sarah McDonald has written an extensive piece on the claims made in Rev. Losack’s book in an article for the Irish Times.
She says that the notion that Ireland’s patron saint was born in Brittany and not Wales may create ‘ripples’ in scholarly and ecclesiastical circles.
Labeled by some scholars as the ‘unknown apostle’, St Patrick offered little clue as to his own roots in his fifth century writings.
The common theory is that St Patrick was taken hostage as a teenager and brought to Ireland from Roman Britain, probably Wales.
Now the new book, launched by Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson, has thrown a spanner in the works by stating that Patrick was in fact a native of what we now know as Brittany and not Britain.
The book is titled ‘Rediscovering Saint Patrick: A New Theory of Origins’ and is published by Columba Press.
The report says that Rev. Losack is an experienced pilgrimage leader and spiritual guide, as well as a lecturer at St George’s College in Jerusalem.
McDonald reports that his historical sleuthing began when he visited the Château de Bonaban near St Malo in Brittany more than four years ago.
There he was told of a local tradition that claims an earlier building on the site belonged to the late Roman period and was owned by St Patrick’s father, Calpurnius.
The report adds that in his Confession, St Patrick wrote that his father Calpurnius owned an estate which in Latin he called Bannavem Tiburniae, from where he was taken captive when he was about 16.
The location of Bannavem Tiburniae was lost to historical memory in the years after Patrick’s death.
Now Rev. Losack argues that Château de Bonaban in Brittany is Bannavem Tiburniae, not a completely new theory according to the paper as almost 200 years ago another Irish scholar also proposed Patrick came from Brittany.
Rev Losack however has located a specific settlement and, in doing so, integrated a whole swathe of new research after engaging the services of linguistics expert Christine Mohrmann.
From a detailed study of Patrick’s Latin, she has suggested that there are definite Gaulish influences in his writings, influences that in her opinion could not have come from Scotland, Wales or anywhere else in Britain.
Rev Losack has said he is hopeful that an archaeological dig can take place that may reveal other evidence of a Roman settlement and possibly provide confirmation for his theory of St Patrick’s origins.
The Irish Times report says he is currently in negotiation with the new owners of the château to see if this is possible.
Rev Losack has said: “There is a lot about St Patrick that we haven’t been told.”