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Shakespeare Quick Quotes - Saint Patrick

Horatio. These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.
Hamlet. I'm sorry they offend you, heartily;
Yes, 'faith heartily.
Horatio. There's no offence, my lord.
Hamlet. Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,
And much offence too.
- Hamlet (1.5.134-139)

A brief look at history illustrates why Shakespeare's choice of Saint Patrick is possibly not random, as Deighton, Warburton, and others editors argue, but a deliberate addition to harmonize with the theme of the scene, as first pointed out by Tschischwitz. As Saint Patrick traveled around Ireland laying the foundations of the Catholic Church, he came to a deep cave on Station Island in Lough Derg. After forty days of praying and fasting, Saint Patrick declared the cave, containing a passage to hell itself, was the place where a soul must undergo purification. The first account of this story is given by Henry, a Benedictine monk in 1152:
Our Lord Jesus Christ, visibly appearing to Saint Patrick, led him into a desert place, and there showed him a circular cave (fossam rotundam) dark inside, and at the same time said to him, whoever, armed with the true faith, and truly penitent, will enter that cave and remain in it for the space of a day and a night, will be purged from the sins of his whole life -- in modern language, obtain a plenary indulgence -- and moreover, passing through it, if his faith fail not -- (si in fide constanter egisset) -- he will witness not only the torments of the damned but also the joys of the blessed" (Healy, 660).
The cave became known as Saint Patrick's Purgatory and was one of the most important pilgrimage sites in all of Europe in Shakespeare's day (and even today). In the play, the ghost of Hamlet's father is trapped in Purgatory:
I am thy father's spirit,
Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away. (1.5.9-13)

For full explanatory notes for this scene and study questions, please see Hamlet (1.5).

For more quotes from Hamlet explained, please see the Hamlet quotations page.

How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. Shakespeare Quick Quotes - Saint Patrick. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2014. < >

Healy, Rev. John. The life and writings of St. Patrick. Dublin: M. H. Gill & son, 1905.
Shakespeare, William. Variorum Hamlet. Ed. Horace Howard Furness. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1918.

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What is Divine Providence?

Bishop Jonathan Weaver, in his sermon on Divine Providence (1891) wrote that "God governs and controls the affairs of this world after the counsel of his own will. Mysteries there are, deep and inexplicable mysteries in God's dealings with the children of men. It seldom, if ever, appears to any man that all things are working together for his good. There are crosses and losses, afflictions and disappointments, about which the very best of men have been tried. There are strange, uneven paths into which good men are sometimes forced, for which at the time they can see no reason. What God has written even a fool may learn to read, but a wise man can not read what God has not written. For
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