On March 25, 433, St. Patrick stepped onto the shores of Slane, Ireland. He immediately demanded the opportunity to speak. His speech went something like this:
“Good people of the Emerald Isle! Henceforth on March 17th, or upon the weekend closest to that date, the rivers of at least one major city should be dyed green in my honor. People without the knowledge that the 3 leafed shamrock represents the Holy Trinity should wear them proudly, along with shiny green top hats. I decree that everyone should skip church in order to attend parades where green beads and cabbages will be thrown to the massive crowds who have gathered to celebrate the anniversary of my death! Oh, and children not wearing green shall be pinched unmercilessly. Ok, that’s it. Where’s the Guinness? Let’s all get sloshed!”
Ok, so that’s not exactly what happened. Here’s a more accurate account:
St. Patrick was born to Italian parents, residing in Scotland, in the year 387. When he was 14 years old, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates, taken to Ireland, and forced to serve as a shepherd. While there, he learned the language and the customs of the people. He also spent much time in prayer and dedicated to Jesus. Six years after his capture, he escaped captivity and begged a ship captain to give him passage. Even as he was escaping, he had a dream where the people of Ireland were calling out to him, saying, “We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more.”
Upon his return to England, Patrick began his studies for the priesthood and was later named as Bishop Patrick. He was then given the task of converting Ireland for the glory of God. He did arrive in Slane, Ireland in 433, and set about sharing the gospel with everyone he met. One legend says one Chief named Dichu tried to kill Patrick, but discovered that his arm was unable to move. Once he prayed to Patrick to give his life to Jesus, his arm relaxed and could move again.
Patrick preached the Gospel across Ireland, living the life of a missionary and converting thousands. He planted churches across the entire island, training priests and overseers to lead them. St. Patrick served for the remainder of his life in Ireland, living most of them in poverty and finally passing away on March 17, 461.
The following unselfish prayer is attributed to St. Patrick:
I arise today through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun, splendor of fire, speed of lightning, depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth, firmness of the rock.
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 hosts to save me afar and anear, Alone or in a multitude.
Christ shield me today against wounding.
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 in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me.
I arise today through the mighty strength of the Lord of creation.
May we all be so focused on Christ as was St. Patrick.
*Image courtesy of Sergio Mena Ferreia