Remembering St. Patrick
For most folks St. Patrick’s Day brings to mind little more than shamrocks, beer, and dancing leprechauns. But it would do us well to remember the man behind all the green.
St. Patrick was born in Britain at the end of the fourth century, during the last days of the Roman Empire. At the age of sixteen invading pirates took Patrick captive and sold him into slavery in Ireland. After six years of servitude, Patrick was able to escape and returned to his homeland.
Though back home, the suffering of Patrick’s captivity had made its mark, leading him from the nominal Christianity of his upbringing to a deep and profound faith. In his own words he tells us how he was “struck to the heart” and came to the conviction that it was his duty to return to the land of his hated captivity and convert the Irish to Christ.
Upon returning to Ireland, Patrick felt inadequate for the task because his prior enslavement had cut short his education. But before long, his upright character and earnest approach gave him favor with the people.
As the Celtic people turned to Christ, Ireland became a place of refuge from the barbarians that were sweeping across the crumbling empire. Through the relative calm of this place, the best of history was preserved until a brighter day, and the Irish people provided a bridge that would lead to a new beginning centuries later.
St. Patrick lived in a time of rapid change and instability. The people of his day had many fears, and they were becoming more and more fragmented from one another. But through his life of faith, hope, and charity, Patrick led many to Christ, bringing about a transformation of their lives and the promise of a better tomorrow.
There are lessons for us to learn from St. Patrick and his times. As our own age faces its fears and fragmentation, we are reminded that hope and stability are found in Jesus Christ alone. We are also reminded that this hope is carried forth by people of courage, faith, and humility. People like St. Patrick.