St. Patrick

March 17, 2023

St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world’s most popular saints. He was born in Roman Britain in the 5th century. When he was a young boy he was captured by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave to tend sheep. Ireland was a land of druids and pagans but Patrick turned to God for help. In his Confession, he later wrote:

After I came to Ireland the love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was moved so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many in the night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountains; and I used to get up for prayer before daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no harm, and there was no sloth in me– as I now see, because the spirit within me was then fervent.

Patrick’s captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream where God told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found sailors who took him back to Britain and was reunited with his family.  A few years after returning home, Patrick saw a vision he described in his Confession:

I saw in the night the vision of a man, whose name was Victoricus, coming as it were from Ireland, with countless letters. And he gave me one of them, and I read the opening words of the letter, which were, “The voice of the Irish”; and as I read the beginning of the letter I thought that at the same moment I heard their voice — they were those beside the Wood of Voclut, which is near the Western Sea– and thus did they cry out as with one mouth: “We ask thee, boy, come and walk among us once more.”

The vision prompted Patrick to study for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, and was later ordained a bishop and sent to take the Gospel to Ireland.

Patrick arrived in Slane, Ireland on March 25, 433. The most prominent legend about him was that he met the chieftan of one of the druid tribes, who tried to kill him. After an intervention from God, Patrick was able to convert the chieftain and preach the Gospel throughout Ireland.

Patrick preached for 40 years and converted all of Ireland before he died on March 17, 461.  He is believed to be buried in Down Cathedral, Downpatrick. His grave was marked in 1990 with a granite stone.