Who’s St Patrick?Posted: 17 Mar 11 | By: NG Team
The 17th of March may well be the greenest day of the year, with big cities and small towns alike arranging green parades, dressing up as leprechauns, singing about clovers, and munching on Irish food. Some communities even dye their rivers and streams green! Over the years, St Patrick’s Day has become a celebration of Irish culture…but the question is: Who was St. Patrick?
“I was about sixteen years old and did not know the true God”, St. Patrick begins his biography, a fantastic story about an ordinary teenager at the beginning of the 5th century. Young Patrick’s parents were believers, but Patrick broke away from his Christian upbringing. One night when his parents were away, 16-year old Patrick and a number of people were taken and brought on board a ship to be sold as slaves. Patrick had heard of the raids and Irish slave-dealers before, and he’d heard of the druids and their dark powers. He’d also heard that nobody taken as a slave had ever come back.
Days and months passed by, and Patrick adjusted to taking care of the sheep on a farm, realising he’d probably be a slave forever. At the same time, something else started to happen inside of him… God started knocking at his door again. Patrick tells “the love of God and His fear grew in me more and more. I used to get up and pray before dawn -in rain, frost and snow- and the Spirit inside of me was burning!” His faith was strengthened and one night he heard a voice in a dream saying ‘Soon you will depart for your home country. Behold, your ship is already ready”. The next night he fled the farm and walked more than 200 miles back to the Irish coast. When he got to the sea, Patrick jumped aboard a ship about to leave the shore. Shortly after, he found himself on English soil again, safe and sound, which is where the story takes an unexpected turn.
There, on the very first night back in his parent’s home, Patrick had a peculiar vision in his sleep. He saw an Irish man of his own age who was looking at him saying “we beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk among us.” Patrick asked himself: Didn’t I just flee from Ireland? Didn’t God just save me from there? Why on earth would I go back, and even if I was willing, why would God want me to go back so soon? Left with a difficult decision to make, Patrick didn’t hesitate, but instead decided to obey. He immediately started planning his return to the land, and the rest is history.
Patrick preached the gospel of Jesus his whole life, challenging druids, winning people for God, planting churches, and setting captives free. Upon reaching old age, he looked back on the country where he was once a slave and concluded his own life with the words: “So is it that in Ireland, where they never had any knowledge of God but, always, until now, cherished idols and unclean things, they are lately come a people of the Lord, and are called children of God.”
Today Patrick is one of the most famous people of Ireland, and the day of his death is celebrated as the national day “St. Patrick’s Day”.