Commonplace Book Entry: St. Patrick & the Pagan Corpse

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Recently, I have been filling my commonplace book with notes from The Penguin Book of the Undead: Fifteen Hundred Years of Supernatural Encounters (edited by Scott G. Bruce). In the section “The Discernment of the Saints,” Bruce shares three stories about saints that Manualofprayers-016c-patrickcompelled the dead to reveal their identities and reasons for their unrest (pg 34). The following is one story about St. Patrick (summarized).

While traveling, St. Patrick made it a habit to visit every standing cross along the road. At the end of the day on one trip, the chariot driver told St. Patrick he had missed a standing cross. St. Patrick left his guesthouse and went back to find the cross.

Upon finding the cross he realized it was a grave. He asked, “Who is buried here?” The corpse answered, “I am a wretched pagan. While I was alive, great pain wracked by soul and I died and then I was buried here.” St. Patrick asked the corpse why he received a Christian burial as a pagan. The corpse explained a woman mistook the pagan’s grave as her son’s and placed the cross like so. Then, St. Patrick said, “This is why I passed this cross by, for this is a pagan grave.” With his Christian corpse radar still impeccable, St. Patrick moved the cross to the correct grave. The end.

For more St. Patrick’s Day reading enjoy last year’s post on The Banshee.

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