The Poison Cup

St. Patrick went on to Tara, and there he lit the Paschal fire and celebrated the Easter mysteries. But the Druids were wroth, for it was against their ordinances for any fire to be lit until the chief Druid himself had kindled the sacred fire. Therefore they sought to poison St. Patrick, and a cupful of poison was given him by one of the Druids; but the danger was revealed to him, and thereupon he pronounced certain words over the liquor, and whoever pronounceth these words over poison shall receive no injury from it. He also then composed the prayer, "In nomine Dei Patris," and recited it over the cup of poison.

The number of companions with whom St. Patrick travelled through the country was seven score and ten, and before his time only three classes of persons were allowed to speak in public in Erin—the chronicler, to relate events; the poet, to eulogize and satirize; and the Brehon, to pass judgment according to the law. But after St. Patrick's arrival every utterance of the three professions was subject to "the men of the white language"—that is, the Gospel—and only such utterances were allowed as did not clash with the Gospel.