Above: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, Ireland, Circa 1854
Image in the Public Domain
SAINT PATRICK (BETWEEN 387 AND 390-BETWEEN 461 AND 464)
Apostle of Ireland
Many legends populate accounts of St. Patrick‘s life. We can be reasonably sure of some details, though.
The native of the borderlands of England and Scotland grew up in a Christian family. His grandfather was a priest and his father, Calpornius, was a deacon and a member of the local town council. Despite his upbringing, St. Patrick was not especially pious at first. When our saint was 16 years old Irish slaves abducted him. He spent the next five years as a poorly clad shepherd in Ireland. During this time St. Patrick began to take religion seriously. Eventually he escaped from Ireland and slavery. St. Patrick credited God for this.
Next St. Patrick, back in Britain, studied for ministry. Circa 431 the newly minted bishop returned to Ireland. Has was neither the first missionary nor the first bishop on the Emerald Isle, for there were already Christians, who had a bishop, there. Yet St. Patrick was the most influential missionary bishop in Irish history. He established his see at Armagh and presided over a campaign of evangelism. He had churches built on holy sites and crosses carved on Druidic altars. St. Patrick also baptized tens of thousands of people and ordained hundreds of priests.
Irish hagiography is replete with people whom St. Patrick ordained, baptized, confirmed, or befriended. This fact comfirms the centrality of our saint on the Emerald Isle for a certain period of time.
“I Bind Unto Myself Today,” attributed to St. Patrick, is a theologically sound text and my favorite hymn.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JANUARY 20, 2017 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT FABIAN, BISHOP OF ROME AND MARTYR
THE FEAST OF SAINTS DEICOLA AND GALL, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS; AND OTHMAR, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AT SAINT GALLEN
THE FEAST OF SAINTS EUTHYMIUS THE GREAT AND THEOCRISTUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOTS
THE FEAST OF HARRIET AUBER, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER
Almighty God, in your providence you chose your servant Patrick to be an apostle to the Irish people,
to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of you:
Grant us so to walk in that light that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Psalm 97:1-2, 7-12
1 Thessalonians 2:2b-12
—Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 273