St Patrick

By Viki Doyle Heagy

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He was born in Great Britain to a wealthy, Christian family.  His father was a deacon in the church.  When Patrick was 16, Irish raiders kidnapped him and made him a slave. They sent him out into the fields to be a shepherd. He often prayed during the long, lonely days.


One night he had a dream. In the dream, God told Patrick that a ship was waiting to take him home. Patrick knew it was the answer to his prayers. He ran away and found the ship. He returned to his family, studied religion, and became a priest.


Patrick then had another dream. The Irish people were calling to him.  The voices in the dream were begging him to tell them about Jesus. Ireland was a pagan country at that time. The people had not heard about Jesus.  Patrick returned to Ireland and began teaching the people about Christianity.  Patrick moved from place to place converting the people.  He built many churches.


Patrick used pagan symbols and traditions of Ireland in his teachings about Christianity.  He incorporated the pagan symbol of the sun into the Celtic cross. This helped the people to understand.  In Ireland, shamrocks grow everywhere.  It is said that Patrick used the shamrock to explain the holy trinity. One leaf each for the - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - all in one plant.


There is a legend that tells of St Patrick driving all the snakes in Ireland into the sea. Ireland to this day does not have any snakes. There are more stories about how he healed people. We do not know if all these stories are true, but we do know a few facts. He wrote his memoir, which is called - The Confession. He also wrote a poem called The Breastplate. It is a poem about his faith and trust in God. Part of it is:


"Christ be with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me."


St. Patrick preached for forty years and became a bishop. He died in 460 A.D and we celebrate his feast day on March 17.