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Saint Patrick, Evangelist and Missionary to Ireland

Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a celebration held on March 17 each year, the traditional date of Saint Patrick’s death.

Saint Patrick was born in Roman Britain in the 5th century, around 1,600 years ago.

Calpurnius, his father, was a  Christian Deacon and his grandfather Potitus was a Priest. Patrick, however, was not an active Christian believer during his youth.

According to the Confession of Saint Patrick, at the age of sixteen Patrick was captured by a group of Irish pirates. 

They took him to Ireland where he was enslaved and held captive for six years, forced to work as a shepherd.

Patrick writes in the Confession that the time he spent in captivity was critical to his spiritual formation. He explains that the Lord had mercy on his youth and ignorance, and afforded him the opportunity to be forgiven of his sins and to be converted to Christianity. As a slave, Saint Patrick strengthened his relationship with God through prayer, eventually leading him to convert to Christianity.

After six years as a slave he heard a voice telling him that he would soon go home and that his ship was ready. Fleeing his slave-master, he travelled to a port two hundred miles away, where he persuaded the captain of a ship to take him away from Ireland. After three days sailing, they landed in Britain and left the ship, walking for 28 days in a “wilderness,” becoming faint from hunger. After Patrick prayed to God for help, they encountered a herd of wild pigs. Since this was shortly after Patrick had urged them to put their faith in God, his witness to the group was greatly increased.

After various adventures, he returned home to his family when he was in his early twenties and he continued his study of Christianity, including studies in Europe where he was ordained as a Priest.

Patrick had a vision a few years after returning home…

I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: “The Voice of the Irish.” As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.”

Acting on this vision, Patrick returned to Ireland as a Christian Missionary. He was not welcomed at first by the locals and was forced to leave to seek a more welcoming location in Ireland.

Saint Patrick fought against slavery in Ireland and he suffered for Christ, he was beaten, robbed, put in chains, imprisoned and his life was threatened many times.

Patrick wrote that in Ireland he “baptised thousands of people” and he ordained Priests to lead the new Irish Christian communities.

Patrick also wrote of the people of Ireland…

Never before did they know of God except to serve idols and unclean things. But now, they have become the people of the Lord, and are called children of God.

There are many legends that surround Saint Patrick, including that he used a shamrock clover to explain the Trinity and that he banished snakes from Ireland. To read our article The Holy Trinity: God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit CLICK HERE

Saint Patrick is known as the “Apostle of Ireland” and he is the primary patron saint of people of Irish descent around the world.

Here is one of the most famous of Saint Patrick’s prayers…

Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.


 

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