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What if St. Patrick Had a Will

March 17th, 2011 3 comments

 

A will has no force nor effect until it is probated and the Surrogate determines that it is genuine, that the testator had testamentary capacity, that he was not unduly influenced by another person, and that he published the will before signing it. When a proposed executor submits a probate petition, he must notify all of the deceased’s heirs at law. Each must either waive his or her right to contest the will or be cited to appear in court to oppose the will. Problems arise when the testator’s family cannot be located. Petitioners frequently must hire a genealogist to locate lost heirs. The task becomes more difficult and expensive when the decedent emigrated from another country and his birthplace is unknown.

Yesterday, I met with a client who must locate the heirs of a man who was born somewhere in eastern Europe. Thinking about this problem and given that today is St. Patrick’s Day, I started wondering how difficult it would be to probate St. Patrick’s will.

Some historians have postulated that St. Patrick was not a living person, but a fictional character of legend. They’d get an argument, but not absolution, if they confessed their sinful thoughts to Father O’Shea this morning at the Cathedral which bears the Saint’s name. And they’d get a beer in their face but not in a glass if they voiced their opinion today in any Irish pub in Woodside.

For the true believers, St. Patrick is as real as the sun setting over Galway Bay.  But experts dispute his birthplace.

Various accounts have St. Patrick being born in Scotland, see: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=89 and in England, see: http://www.vortigernstudies.org.uk/artgue/guestjelley.htm and in Wales, see: http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/Wales-History/StPatrick.htm and in Boulogne, France (as per Dr. Lanigan, author of The Ecclesiastical History of Ireland) as referenced in this scholarly article, http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata/PSAS_2002/pdf/arch_scot_vol_005/05_261_284.pdf and, in Gaul, see this scholarly article: http://www.sangrial.com/pdf_files/saintpatricksfamily.pdf . To confuse things even further, Gaul was a Roman province which covered the area from France, Belgium, and westernmost Germany, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_GaulSince St. Patrick was a Roman Citizen and the territory of Gaul also included the Italian Alps, even the Italians have laid claim. 

 
Two thing are certain. First, the genealogist’s bill would be very expensive. Secondly, everybody wants to have a piece of St. Patrick. And who can blame them. Look at all the royalties they could claim for his parades, and memorabilia.  I wonder what his wife, Sheilagh, would think about that?!?  Yes, some people in Newfoundland claim that he WAS married.  See: http://able2know.org/topic/20682-1

 

While the proponent of the will would have a huge problem, his birthplace is not of concern to his many fans.  We can all share St. Patrick today, because everybody’s Irish on St. Paddy’s Day.   Slainte!