First, let’s dispel some myths about him:
- He wasn’t Irish!
- He had NOTHING to do with Guinness…
- …Or leprechauns.
- People say he chased all the snakes out of Ireland and there are none there now because of him. Maybe there were none there in the first place?
- He is said to have used a shamrock/three-leaved clover to describe that the same one God is in three parts: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This may or may not have happened but I like the idea that it did.
Here is his story in brief: Born early in the 5th century, Patrick was captured by Irish bandits when he was a boy, and taken into slavery in Ireland where he worked as a shepherd for six years. After this he fled, going back to his family for a time. He became a Christian, and felt God telling him to go back to Ireland to share his faith. Back in Ireland he faced opposition from many, including being captured again, near death experiences and so on. The world was a different place back then and he would’ve known what it was like to be lonely. In all this though he never lost his faith; in fact he helped many come to know Jesus. My favourite thing about him, apart from his inspirational faith and strength under opposition, is his creativity. Noticing that many Irish people worshipped the sun in the sky, he flipped this on its head by talking about God’s son, Jesus:
The sun which we see rises every day for our benefit at his behest, but it will never reign nor will its radiance endure, but all who worship it will come to a bad end. But we believe in and adore the true Sun, Jesus Christ, who will never die, nor will anyone die who has done his will.
You can see this at its best in the Celtic cross, when Patrick took the image of the cross where Jesus died and stuck the sun on it. It shows that Jesus is the light of the world.
If you have the time and want to listen to something beautiful, have a listen to this song. It’s based on a prayer that Patrick is said to have written:
Next time March 17th comes around, I hope that you also will be inspired by who Patrick was and what he stood for, instead of what his day has become.