Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Real St. Patrick

The real St. Patrick was indeed the Patron Saint of Ireland. Born in either a Scottish or English family in the 4th Century A.D., he had a rather inauspicious beginning to his life. Early on he was captured by a man named Niall of the Nine Hostages and was sold into slavery in Ireland. He became a devout Christian for comfort while working in these awful conditions, and one day he had a dream that encouraged him to flee his captivity. There would, if he traveled on foot to a town called Wexford, be a ship waiting for him if he left is what the dream told him. He awoke, following the dream to the letter, and sure enough there was a ship.

After arriving in England, he was once again captured and sold into slavery. Escaping two months later, he spent the next seven years of his life roaming England seeking his destiny. During this time he furthered his education and studied Christianity in the Lerin Monastery in France.

During this time he also had another dream which encouraged him to go back to Ireland to minister to the people there. He would not, however, go back immediately and was eventually made a Bishop by Pope Celestine in 432. After this, he finally was able to lead a delegation back to his native Ireland.

The webpage explains the ensuing events well:

Patrick confronted the most powerful man in Ireland Laoghaire, The High King of Tara as he knew that if he could gain his support that he would be safe to spread the word throughout Ireland.

To get his attention Patrick and his followers lit a huge fire to mark the commencement of Spring. Tradition had it that no fire was to be lit until the Kings fire was complete, but Patrick defied this rule and courted the confrontation with the King. The King rushed into action and travelled with the intention of making war on the holy delegation. Patrick calmed the King and with quiet composure impressed the King that he had no other intention than that of spreading the word of the Gospel.

The King accepted the missionary, much to the dismay of the Druids who feared for their own power and position in the face of this new threat. They commanded that he make snow fall. Patrick declined to do so stating that this was Gods work. Immediately it began to snow, only stopping when Patrick blessed himself.

Still trying to convince the King of his religion, Patrick grasped at a shamrock growing on the ground. He explained that there was but one stem on the plant, but three branches of the leaf, representing the Belssed Trinity. The King was impressed with his sincerity and granted him permission to spread the word of his faith, although he did not convert to Christianity himself. Patrick and his followers were free to spread their faith throughout Ireland and did so to great effect. He drove paganism (symbolised by the snake) from the lands of Eireann.

Patrick died on March 17th in the year 461 at the age of 76. It is not known for sure where his remains were laid although Downpatrick in County Down in the North of Ireland is thought to be his final resting place. His influence is still felt to this day as Nations the world over commemorate him on March 17th of every year.

So it goes without saying that the real St. Patrick was a man of great faith! Happy St. Patrick's day to you all!

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