Today is St. Patrick’s Day, a day infamous for its rowdy celebrations. But what about the man who gave this day its name? St. Patrick was born in Britain near the end of the 4th century AD to wealthy parents. At the age of 16 he was captured and taken prisoner by Irish raiders. They brought him to Ireland where he was held in captivity for 6 years. During this time he was isolated and turned to his faith for consolation, becoming a devout Christian. After 6 years, Patrick finally escaped and returned to Britain. Shortly thereafter, he had a dream in which God told him to return to Ireland as a missionary. He underwent religious training that lasted for nearly 15 years before he was ordained as a priest. Upon his ordination, he returned to Ireland.
Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional Irish ritual into his teaching of Christianity instead of attempting to do away with native Irish symbols and belief. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish. Patrick allowed the Irish culture to be a channel through which to relay the beliefs of Christianity. This missionary model was very successful, and St. Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. Today he is venerated as one of the great missionaries of Christianity.
A Prayer of St. Patrick
Christ be with us, Christ before us, Christ behind us, Christ in us, Christ beneath us, Christ above us, Christ on our right, Christ on our left, Christ where we lie, Christ where we sit, Christ where we arise, Christ in the heart of every one who thinks of us, Christ in every eye that sees us, Christ in ever ear that hears us. Salvation is of the lord, salvation is of the Christ. May your salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.