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The Real Story of St. Patrick

What do you think about when you think about St. Patrick’s Day?  Green?  A leprechaun and a pot of gold?  A shamrock shake from McDonalds?  Or maybe corned beef, cabbage and potatoes?

If you ask most people, even those who proudly claim their Irish blood, they typically have no clue who St. Patrick was.  (Next person you see, ask them why St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated and see what they say.)

The story of Saint Patrick is quite fascinating and downright inspiring.  Patrick lived in the fourth century and contrary to what you may think, he did not grow up in Ireland!  He lived on the west coast of Britain.

When he was 16 years old, he was captured by visiting Irish pirates and taken back to Ireland.  What was his job as a newly acquired slave?  To tend the sheep for an Irish chieftain.  Tired, hungry and homesick, Patrick naturally longed to go back home.

He hated the Irish for taking him away from his home and vowed to one day repay them for their cruelty.  But something happened.  Over time, he became less and less angry and bitter towards the Irish.

Though he did not have a copy of the Bible to read while out in the fields tending the sheep, he prayed to God.  Before the sun would show itself each morning, Patrick would already be up praying.  He said, “The love and fear of God came to me more and more and my faith was strengthened.”

Eventually, God changed Patrick’s heart and his once deep hatred for the Irish turned into a love for them.  He began to pray for his captors.  (Place yourself into Patrick’s shoes.  Can you imagine praying for the same people that took you from your family and forced you to do the work of a slave?)

In his sixth year of his captivity, Patrick had a dream.  In his dream, he heard a voice say, “Soon you will return to your own country.  See, your ship is ready now.”  Patrick did not hesitate to take action, believing that this was a message from God telling him to escape.

He walked over 200 miles to a seaport, boarded a ship and eventually made it back home to his family.  He told his family, “God snatched me from my homeland and parents so that I might know and love Him.”

Though Patrick tried to get back into the swing of things at home, he couldn’t get the Irish people out of his mind.  He knew that they held to many superstitions and worshipped false gods.  What the Irish needed was the Word of God in their lives and he longed to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to them.

His family thought he was crazy when he shared his desire to return to the Irish.  He told them, “It is in Ireland that I wish to serve until I die, if the Lord would grant it to me.”  After several years of preparing for his missionary work, he sailed back to Ireland.

Not long after his arrival, a local Irish ruler named Dichu, accepted Patrick’s teaching and was baptized.  Dichu gave Patrick a piece of land with a barn on it.  Patrick turned the barn into his first Irish church!  But it wasn’t all that easy.

Patrick faced great opposition for not everyone was happy that he was leading people away from their idols.  Patrick said, “Daily I expect murder, fraud or captivity but I fear none of these things.  I have cast myself in to the hands of God Almighty, who rules everywhere, as the prophet says:  ‘Cast your cares upon God, and He shall sustain you.’”

One of Patrick’s teaching tools is said to be the shamrock.  It is said that Patrick used it as a symbol to explain the Trinity to unbelievers.

For over 40 years Patrick ministered to the Irish, bringing thousands to Jesus Christ.  Near the end of his life, when asked if it had been worth it, he said, “The greatest gift in my life has been to know and love God; to serve Him and is my highest joy.”


St. Patrick’s Breastplate:

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Oneness

of the Creator of creation.

I arise today

Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,

Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,

Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,

Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today

Through the strength of the love of cherubim,

In the obedience of angels,

In the service of archangels,

In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,

In the prayers of patriarchs,

In the predictions of prophets,

In the preaching of apostles,

In the faith of confessors,

In the innocence of holy virgins,

In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through

The strength of heaven,

The light of the sun,

The radiance of the moon,

The splendor of fire,

The speed of lightning,

The swiftness of wind,

The depth of the sea,

The stability of the earth,

The firmness of rock.

I arise today, through

God’s strength to pilot me,

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s eye to look before me,

God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to speak for me,

God’s hand to guard me,

God’s shield to protect me,

God’s host to save me

From snares of devils,

From temptation of vices,

From everyone who shall wish me ill,

afar and near.

I summon today

All these powers between me and those evils,

Against every cruel and merciless power

that may oppose my body and soul,

Against incantations of false prophets,

Against black laws of pagandom,

Against false laws of heretics,

Against craft of idolatry,

Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,

Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;

Christ to shield me today

Against poison, against burning,

Against drowning, against wounding,

So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

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 sit down,

Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Oneness

of the Creator of creation.

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