• Theories exist to support that St Patrick was born and raised into a wealthy family in what is now Ravenglass, England, but to date, a location has not been confirmed.
• He was captured by Irish pirates at age 16 and enslaved as a shepherd by the Irish for 6 years. He became familiar with Irish customs, culture and language.
• Patrick’s writings indicate that these years as a slave led him into faith in Christ. One day, a voice came to him to tell him a boat would be waiting for him at a port two hundred miles away. It was there.
• After a three-day boat ride and a 28-day walk without food, the entire crew was faint from hunger. Patrick prayed for sustenance and they encountered a herd of wild boar, which increased his esteem amongst the sailors. He led them all to convert to Christianity.
• He was captured briefly in this new land and taken to a French monastery, which also influenced his early faith development.
• He returned home to England, where he studied Christianity, and had a vision that he should return to Ireland.
• Patrick was ordained by St. Germanus of Auxerre, a highly educated (fancy pants) saint and sent to Ireland as a missionary where the locals did not welcome him at first.
• He is recognized as a saint worldwide, but has never been canonized by the Catholic Church.
• He used the local-growing Irish shamrock, with its three leaves, to teach the trinity to the pagans of Ireland. He writes that he “baptized thousands of people,” “ordained priests” to lead the new converts, and converted many wealthy women to become nuns in the face of family opposition.
• Many legends swirl about St Patrick, but the most fascinating story is that his walking stick grew into a living tree. “During his evangelizing journey back to Ireland from his parent’s home at Birdoswald, he is understood to have carried with him an ash wood walking stick or staff. He thrust this stick into the ground wherever he was evangelising [sic] and at the place now known as Aspatria (ash of Patrick) the message of the dogma took so long to get through to the people there that the stick had taken root by the time he was ready to move on.” This story may be a legend, but the stubbornness of the Irish is legendary! My dad is Irish. That’s all I have to say about that.
• Patrick was eventually tried in Irish martial (court) for what appears to be financial shenanigans.
(all facts fromhttps://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick)
God sent the unworthy to do the impossible among pagans with little more than budding faith, a walking stick, and a blooming shamrock. On St. Patrick’s Day, we celebrate the tenacity of a man who performed the duties of a saint, made some mistakes along the way, but was never gifted the title he earned.
Doesn’t it seem that way for us, friends? We get planted with people who are stubborn pagans and we use the tools we have at hand to lead them closer to a Savior. We make mistakes along the way. All of us from every generation have one job to do: Show the world who Jesus is. Like St. Patrick.
Ephesians 2:18-21 says, “through Him [Jesus] we both [Jew and Gentile] have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,…”
Like Patrick, we are called as a missionary to somewhere, to someone. Patrick made friends of them and built churches for them. We make friends and try to build trust with them in our crazy, mixed-up world.
We are also called to plant our staff amongst the stubborn pagans and look for teachable moments with the resources at our disposal. Patrick had the shamrock. We have so many resources–our homes, our cars, our meals, our offices, our expertise–even if all we do is offer to share, that sets us apart in our world.
Our prayers may never produce a herd of wild boars, (heaven forbid! What would we suburbanites do with a herd of wild animals? How would we kill one? How would we season it? What would we pair with it?), but our prayers might see our enchilada casserole stretched to accommodate a guest who becomes a divine appointment at the dinner table.
Like Patrick, you and I may never be canonized by the Catholic church, or any other church, but today, I’m giving recognition here. You and I serve as a bridge to the lost in our part of the world. We are saints.
As you celebrate Patrick today, wear your green and eat corned beef and cabbage! But if you are logging prayer hours for a stubborn one, be sure to claim your own place in the story of sainthood.