Most of us would never even consider helping someone who had been mean to us.  We would probably never want to see or speak to them again, let alone go live with them!  Yet that is exactly what St. Patrick did. And because of his obedience, he is one of the most popular and famous saints ever. (Although I’m not exactly sure he would approve of the drunken revelry that ensues each year in his honor.)

St. Patrick was actually Scottish, not Irish.  He was captured and taken to Ireland at the tender age of 14, where he spent six years in slavery.  Rather than becoming bitter and angry toward God for his misfortune, like most of us would, he turned to God in prayer for comfort and strength.  When he was 20 years old, God came to him in a dream and told him to go home.  Patrick believed God, escaping his enslavement and being reunited with his family.  But the Irish still called to him in his dreams. (We Irish folk are hard to forget!!)

He entered the priesthood, eventually becoming a bishop.  He spent many years in Rome doing great work before he was sent to Ireland to spread the message of the Gospel.  He was chosen because of something he’d learned during his years as a slave: Celtic!  He was able to communicate with the Irish.  And, as History clearly testifies, he communicated with them beautifully! He preached all over Ireland, even in the face of grave danger from the Druids, many of whom would have rather killed Patrick than convert to Christianity.  Patrick and his followers were imprisoned and sentenced to death many times.  However, by the time of his death in 461, he had converted virtually all of Ireland to Christianity.

Patrick is well known for using a shamrock as an object lesson on the Trinity.  He had an unassuming manner and a gentle way of speaking.  He was known for his humility and disinterest in material things.  He is also credited for chasing all the snakes out of Ireland, although I’m not sure that’s ever been proven! 😉

For me, St. Patrick challenges me to rise to the occasion, and accept whatever lies in front of me with a positive attitude and trust in God.  I’ve never been enslaved, per se, but I’ve certainly been caught in situations that I felt very trapped in. St. Patrick is an amazing example of how to deal with those situations.

And, for those of you who love timelines (like me!) here is some interesting trivia. St. Patrick lived from 385 – 461 AD. (Why do I always think he was around during the Middle Ages?) Below are some people and events that coincided with his lifetime:

  • The rise of Buddhism occurred in the late 300’s.
  • St. Augustine lived from 354 – 430 AD.
  • Hippocrates began movement toward medicine as science in the 400’s.
  • And, last but not least, the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire occurred between 337 – 476 AD.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

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