Monday, March 18, 2013

Who was St. Patrick?

St. Patrick is in very good company in regards to popularity with the other celebrated saints: St. Nicklaus and St. Valentine.

Many people around the country celebrated St. Patrick’s Day yesterday.  He is even very popular in the secular world with parades and parties, people all dressed in green.   While parades and parties have faded, I thought it interesting to learn more about St. Patrick. 

Patrick was born in Roman Britain at the end of the 4th century, maybe 387.  He passed away on March 17, 461 His parents were of high social standing but not necessarily religious.  They gave him the name Kilpatrick.  


There were two important visions or dreams which guided and change St. Patrick’s life.  When he was 16, he was kidnapped by Irish (Celtic) raiders who took him back to Ireland and sold him into slavery.  He herded sheep in the pasture and lived all by himself in the country.  He endured for six years, after which he freed himself and was on his way back to Scotland to be reunited with his family.  There was nobody else to talk to but God.  He developed a very deep relationship with the Heavenly Father.   In a dream, God told him to go back to Britain to meet his family.


"The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, 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."
~ St. Patrick

At his home he had another revelation: he was to prepare for priesthood and go back to Ireland and to convert people to Christianity.   In the year 433 he was ordained as a bishop and was ready to go back to Ireland.  With the help of miracles and God’s guidance, Patrick and his new disciples were able to convert many to Christ, including Kings and tribes leaders.  Together they build many churches.  He worked hard, suffered a lot, following the path of Jesus.  Patrick went the humble course of the servant and could win the people’s hearts. He explained the trinity to the peasants using the shamrock, that’s how it became part of the St. Patrick’s Day tradition.


Patrick faced a lot of persecution from the Irish.  There are many legends and accounts of St. Patrick’s life.   The Irish followers integrated many of the Celtic traditions into the new way of worship, one of them being the Celtic Cross. 
The ring around the cross has its origin in the pagan worship of the sun/moon.         
It is interesting to me how a person like St. Patrick is so popular in our secular society.  He lived an exemplary life and helped many people in his time one earth.  It is one way to remember him and honor him.  I guess everybody likes to celebrate and have a good time even if the meaning behind it becomes diverted.

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