Sunday, March 16, 2014

Saint Patrick of Ireland, 

March 17th 

Picture from
     It’s time to celebrate Saint Patrick, apostle of the Irish.  He’s always portrayed in art as a gray-bearded bishop, in full regalia, driving the snakes out of Ireland.  But before he brought Christianity to Ireland, Patrick was a carefree teenager, growing up in a Roman colony on the coast of Wales.  He had probably been warned many times to stay away from the seashore, but he didn’t listen and so one day he was captured by Irish pirates and sold into slavery.  (Which I guess makes him the patron saint of kids who don’t listen to their parents.)

     Patrick spent six years tending to the sheep of a Druid chieftain, until an angel visited him in a dream and encouraged him to escape.  He walked 200 miles to Westport and found a ship that would take him back to Gaul.  After a series of misadventures, he reached home.  But he never forgot the Irish, he dreamed of them often and he yearned to return and bring them the True Faith.  With that in mind, he became a priest, then a bishop and was commissioned as the missionary to Ireland.  One previous mission had failed, and keep in mind, too that the Romans had never managed to conquer Ireland, either. 

     Many wonderful stories surround Patrick and way too many to share here.  He told some them in his Confession and the Epistle to the Soldiers of Coroticus.  There’s no doubt that he used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the mystery of the Trinity, nor is there any doubt that he loved his Faith and his adopted people.  So much so, it is said that he was granted a unique privilege: on Judgment Day, it will be Patrick who reviews the Irish.   

     Saint Patrick is the patron of the Archdiocese of New York and countless other churches throughout the world.  He is also the patron of engineers, because, according to tradition, he introduced Roman building techniques into Ireland.  

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