On Wednesday, March 17, the Church, along with the rest of the world, will celebrate the feast of St. Patrick of Ireland.
St Patrick is one of the early Church’s most amazing missionaries. He was born around the year 389 on the Island of Briton and considered himself to be both Roman and British. At the age of 16, he was captured by an Irish raiding party and sold into slavery. After six years of living the life of a sheepherding slave, Patrick escaped home to Britain.
However, he felt God calling him to be a priest, so he set out for France where he studied for the priesthood.
Feeling that he was called to return to Ireland, Patrick was ordained a bishop and returned to the country where he had been a slave. He landed at Slane in 433, where he was met by a hostile chieftain called Dichu. However, Dichu converted when he realized that he had lost the ability to move his arm as long as he was unfriendly to Patrick.
Patrick spread the Gospel in Ireland for 40 years, until his death. He converted many, and Ireland became a country on fire with the spirit. The country of the Druids became a country full of churches, sending missionaries out into the world.
Legend has it that St. Patrick drove all of the snakes out of Ireland. Though the country is climatically and geographically isolated enough that snakes never migrated to the island, it is said that Patrick’s actions are symbolic of his stand against the Druids and the symbols of snakes that were used across the country.
Patrick is famous for using the shamrock, a flower native to Ireland to explain the trinity to the pagans who did not understand. Just as the shamrock has three leaves but is one flower, so the trinity has three persons but is one God, he said.
Patrick died in 461 AD. He is buried in County Down, Ireland. St. Patrick is the patron of Ireland, Nigeria, and against snakes.