Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland
Patrick of Ireland is one of the world’s most popular saints. Along with St. Nicholas and St. Valentine, the secular world shares the love of these saints. This is also a day when everyone is Irish.
There are many legends and stories of St. Patrick, but this is his story.
Patrick was born in around 385 in Scotland, probably Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britain in charge of the colonies. As a boy of 14 or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep.
Ireland, at this time, was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him. During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. He 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 have 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 dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.”
Patrick’s captivity last until he was 20, when he escaped after having a dream from God, in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britain, where he was reunited with his family.
He had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him “We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more.”
Patrick began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years.
Later, Patrick was ordained a Bishop and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Slane, Ireland on March 25, 433.
One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain) after he was unable to move his arms until he became friendly to Patrick.
Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick’s message.
By then, Patrick had many disciples, among them Beningus, Auxilius, Iserninus and Fiaac (all later canonized as well).
Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He performed many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions.
After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering, he died on March 17, 461. He died at Saul, where he had built the first church.