MENU

St. Patrick

St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world’s most popular saints. Apostle of Ireland, born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387; died at Saul, Down Patrick, Ireland, 17 March, 461. Along with St. Nicholas and St. Valentine, the secular world shares our love of these saints. This is also a day when everyone is Irish.

Patrick was born 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 fourteen 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 raised, 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 lasted until he was twenty, 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 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.”

He 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 Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. One legend says that he met a chieftain named Dichu, of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted him after he was unable to move his arm 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.

Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461.   He died at Saul, where he had built the first church.

Why is St. Patrick associated with a shamrock? Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, and has been associated with him and the Irish since that time.

“May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back; May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His Hand.”

- Irish Blessing