Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - SCU Access Only


Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2021.

Degree Name

Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL)


Eduardo Fernández, SJ


This thesis presents a theological investigation of Muirchú’s Vita Patricii in dialogue with Verbum Dei spirituality which holds an incarnational dynamic at its core. It seeks to develop a model of inculturation that holds narrative at its center in order to invigorate the work of inculturation today.

Muirchú told a story—a sacred story of a people who have always been part of God’s story. Muirchú expressed his story through the sacred contours of early medieval Ireland; in this way the Vita Patricii, as this thesis argues, is an example of an intentionally inculturated text from the early church. This story took root and continued to shape the contours of people; it invited and continues to invite readers to participate in an incarnational process. In this way it built up the local church. In the same way, the insights gleaned through this research can empower other people and peoples to listen to their own experience so that they can express their sacred story with imagination and creativity.

Muirchú’s theological perspective developed in the Vita Patricii supports the creative listening of all cultures and peoples to do the same. His narratio demonstrates that all cultures are part of God’s plan. Everyone belongs, and their identity is never erased but rather fulfilled. It also highlights the question of power: who gets to tell the story? Although the storytellers in Muirchú’s world were a privileged class, we are all invited to be storytellers. The work of inculturation implies creating spaces at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels to tell one’s sacred story in a spirit of mutual listening. How God is present and at work in a people is a gift to the whole church. For this reason, as we continue walking a path of inculturation, this thesis calls the church to re-imagine this path by placing narratives at the center.

SCU Access Only

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