Saint Patrick: Pioneer Missionary to Ireland

by Michael J. McHugh
151 pages, Biography/History
Reviewed by Jeanne

A suitable history for its age group, true to the known facts.


Saint Patrick, of the fourth century Anno Domini, is one of the most famous missionaries of the Western World. Unfortunately, he is also one with the least known about him. This book, geared toward young readers, draws upon the little known about the saint and takes him from his birth in Scotland to his death in Ireland. Each chapter has discussion questions at the end, for the use of parents reading with their children.


Christian morals are upheld by the author, who focuses mainly on how Patrick brought the light of the Gospel into the darkness of pagan Ireland. As this is a history, the state of the Celts is portrayed in very human terms; however, since the book is geared toward children, immoral behavior is toned down and not dwelt upon.

Spiritual Content

McHugh portrays Patrick's parents as Christians (from what scholars know, his father was a deacon) and Patrick, after his capture by the Celts, comes to the faith as well. At this point the Irish still have their Druids and their pagan sacrifices, and others believe in a pantheon of gods. Monks, monasteries, and bishops all show up at different points, and the Church of Rome is mentioned. Patrick fasts and prays, and the author incorporates his famous vision of the "Voice of the Irish." The Christianity that the author portrays in the book is somewhat anachronistic in places, but the theology is sound.


Near the beginning, raiders attack Patrick's village and take him captive, making him a slave in Ireland. Later he witnesses the sacrifice of a young girl by the druids, and at one point he is imprisoned for a time. During his voyage from Ireland, many of the crew on the ship Patrick has boarded die of starvation.

Drug and Alcohol Content

The chieftains and warriors drink mead, a kind of alcoholic drink.

Sexual Content


Crude or Profane Language or Content



Not much is known about this famous man, but McHugh has done a good job of gathering together and using what facts (and legends) are known. The story is written a lot like a work of fiction, but as far as the facts go, this book is correct in them. It's a good introduction to the missionary, and focuses a great deal on the work God did through him. Older readers, however, will probably want to do more in-depth research if interested in the life of Patrick.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: 8-10

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