St. Patrick of Ireland – whose feast we celebrate today – is one of the world’s best known saints.
He was born around 385, perhaps in Scotland, near Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britain.
When he was about fourteen, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland to live among the Druids and pagans, tending and herding sheep.
During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. He later wrote:
The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was roused, so that, in a single day, I said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night nearly the same. I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow, ice or rain.
When Patrick was twenty he had a dream which told him to go to the coast. Sure that God was telling him to leave Ireland he ran away and made his way to the Irish coast. There he found some sailors who were willing to take him back to Britain, where he was reunited with his family.
Once more Patrick was inspired by a dream in which he heard the people of Ireland were calling out to him:
We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more.
He began his studies for the priesthood and was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years.
Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop. He then returned to Ireland to bring the Gospel to the Irish people.
There are many legends surrounding St.Patrick. One of these tells of his meeting with a chieftain called Dichu who wanted to kill him. When Dichu raised his arm to bring down the fatal blow, his arm stiffened and he couldn’t move. It was only when he agreed to befriend Patrick that his arm returned to normal.
Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, winning many converts. He gathered disciples around him and they went out and preached and won many further conversions.
Maybe one of the most famous teachings that Patrick was renowned for was his teaching on the Trinity – using a simple shamrock to explain it.
Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity on hearing Patrick’s message.
Patrick spent forty years preaching and converting the Irish. Many witnessed the miracles attributed to him. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering, he died in Saul on March 17th 461.
For those with Irish ancestors, today is a great day of celebration. There will be many people wearing green and proudly sporting shamrocks.
To celebrate the feast of St.Patrick, why not get out a green tablecloth and cook up a Irish stew.
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