Saint Patrick’s Day

They called Patrick a saint long before there was any such formal title applied. Legend is so tightly woven with history that at times it is challenging to discern what is which.

He was born an Anglo Saxon in southwestern Britain under Roman rule in 389 A.D. In 405 A.D., while working on his father’s farm he was captured by Irish raiders and sold as a slave. As a young swine herdsman in Ulster he experienced extreme hardship and loneliness. He witnessed and experienced the cruel pagan Irish way of life that characterized the era. The trauma of hearing the screams of a young prince being roasted alive impacted his life dramatically. His harsh years in Ireland brought him to a deep personal faith in Christ.

In 411 A.D., while praying, his understanding was illumined as to how to escape. At age 22 he escaped by ship to France and back to be reunited with his family in Britain. One year later he returned to France and studied with Germanus at Auxerre. Though by no means a scholar he was a devotee to His Lord. He was self-conscious of his lack of academic ability and did little writing until late in life.

In 432 A.D. he turned aside the appeal of his parent not to return to Ireland where he served as a Christian missionary until 462 A.D. It is said he “found Ireland all heathen and left it all Christian.” He established over 300 churches and baptized more than 120,000. His rustic simplicity and spiritual sincerity prevailed.

An elemental understanding of the culture in which he achieved this makes it all the more remarkable. The Ireland to which he returned practiced a religion of animistic polytheism which entailed worshiping the sun, moon, and numerous objects. They had a preoccupation with demons, fairies, and elves. The white robed druid priests practiced divination, counseled kings, formulated laws, and sacrificed first born children on open air altars.

He disregarded all obstacles, his fears, and hesitations to serve the people who had persecuted him as a slave in his youth. Upon hearing of his return his former slave master, Millucc, out of fear committed suicide. He is characterized by courage and persistent devotion. He prayed for and ministered to King Loegaire (pronounced Leery) who ultimately converted to Christianity and thus opened the national door to the gospel.

Though not a scholar he hit upon one of the simplest and most brilliant ways of illustrating the complex doctrine of the Trinity. He likened it to a shamrock. Having three petals it is yet one shamrock, three-in-one.

That application has helped persons understand the concept of three-in-one, the Tri-unity. Similarly, H2O in liquid form is water, in a solid form is ice, and in the form of a gas is a vapor. Yet it is one and the same.

In 1845, his birth day, March 17, began to be celebrated as a festive holiday known as Saint Patrick’s Day. It has since become known as “a great day for the Irish.”

Disregard the snake story. He dealt with and defeated a greater dragon.

“Saint Patrick’s Prayer” also known as “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate” stated in part:
“I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall with me be ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”