Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saint Patrick

St. Patrick was of Romano-British origin, and born about the year 389AD. His father, Calpurnius, was a deacon, and Patrick's own full name was probably Patricius Magonus Sucatus. When he was 16, he was captured in Britain by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland. During six bleak years spent as a herdsman, he turned with fervor to his faith. Hearing at last in a dream that the ship in which he was to escape was ready, he fled his master and found passage to Britain. There he came near to starvation and suffered a second brief captivity before he was reunited with his family. Thereafter, he became a priest and eventually a bishop. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland and probably responsible in part for the Christianization of the Anglo-Saxons. In a dream vision it seemed “all the children of Ireland from their mothers’ wombs were stretching out their hands” to him. He understood the vision to be a call to do mission work in pagan Ireland. Despite opposition from those who felt his education had been defective, he was sent to carry out the task. He went to the west and north, where the faith had never been preached, obtained the protection of local kings and made numerous converts.
Because of the island’s pagan background, Patrick was emphatic in encouraging widows to remain chaste and young women to consecrate their virginity to Christ. He ordained many priests, divided the country into dioceses, held Church councils, founded several monasteries and continually urged his people to greater holiness in Christ. He suffered much opposition from pagan druids and was criticized in both England and Ireland for the way he conducted his mission. Patrick died about 461, and was buried in the vicinity of the future Cathedral town of Down.

Legends about Patrick abound; but truth is best served by our seeing two solid qualities in him: He was humble and he was courageous. The determination to accept suffering and success with equal indifference guided the life of God’s instrument for winning most of Ireland for Christ.
One of his famous quotes is called the Breastplate of St. Patrick:
“Christ shield me this day:
Christ 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 arise, Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me”

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