The Emerald Isle’s Hero of God
What did you do for Saint Patrick’s Day? Or as some say Saint Patty’s Day. Did you wear green, drink green beer and listen to the once-a-year old favorite When Irish Eyes Are Smiling? One year I won some green money in a radio contest. Last year my friend’s daughter had to make a trap for a leprechan for school. What about Saint Patrick did he really chase the snakes out of Ireland like they say? Well, just like Christmas and Easter, the true meaning of this holiday must stand against the imaginative myths that have gathered throughout time. Except most people never learn hear who St. Patrick really was. I finally heard when I was in my late 20’s and listening to a Dr. D. James Kennedy sermon on the radio.
This year the story was retold in a three minute talk given by Chuck Colson on his interesting radio program called Breakpoint(.org). I also found a few excellent books about this unsung hero at his site.*
Saint Patrick really existed. He was born in Britian around 390 AD. When he was a teenager some violent Irish raiders came and took him away. When they returned to Ireland, he was sold to a king who used him as a slave shepherd. He spent more than six years out in the elements of nature where he learned to seriously talk with God. Although he had grown up in a Christian home, it was not until this time that he truly became a Christian. After having a dream from God he knew he must leave his situation and return to his homeland. So he did. Although there would possibly be very regretful consequences if he was recaptured as a fugitive slave he trusted God and left anyway. He walked 200 miles to the Irish coast and got on a ship that took him back to Britian.
After his return God called him to live in a monestary. There he became a priest and then a bishop. And then, remarkably true, God called him back to the place of his slavery, Ireland. But his passion was great for the people there. In his writings he told of his great concern for the Irish. The lovely description of “the Emerald Isle” did not describe the deeds of it’s people. During that time, the people performed pagan acts of violence and other barbaric rituals. Murders and even human sacrifices occured often.
But in his writings, we see Saint Patrick’s heart to bring the people to God. He wrote, â€œI am ready to be murdered, betrayed, enslavedâ€”whatever may come my way.â€* It was thirty years after he was in Ireland the first time that God called him back. And the passion of his heart became reality when God worked through him to bring thousands to a conversion of faith in Christ.
*T. M. Moore, â€œWitness to Greatness: St. Patrick Through the Eyes of a Contemporary,â€ BreakPoint Online, 15 March 2006.
T. M. Moore, â€œA Culture of Plunder and Praise,â€ BreakPoint Online, 2 February 2004.
Read The Confession of St. Patrick (translated from the Latin by Ludwig Bieler) and St. Patrickâ€™s Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus.
Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization (Doubleday, 1996).
T. M. Moore, Celtic Flame: The Burden of Patrick (Xlibris, 2000).
Mark Atherton, ed., Celts and Christians (University of Wales Press, 2002).
Philip Freeman, St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography (Simon and Schuster, 2004).