The History of St. Patrick
by Patti Chadwick
Since many stories and
legends have been told regarding St. Patrick it is difficult to
separate the facts from the myths. We do know, however, that Patrick
was born around 387 AD in Roman Britain. His father was a magistrate
and Patrick, as his name implies, was of noble birth , (those of
more noble rank among the Romans were called Patricians).
When he was sixteen, Patrick was carried off by a band of Irish
raiders and was made a slave in Ireland. Here he became a shepherd
and served his master faithfully. While spending long and often
lonely days in the forests or hills with his sheep, his love for God
grew stronger and his faith increased. After six years, Patrick was
set free and allowed to return home to his family, who had given him
up for dead.
While in Ireland, Patrick had become a devout young man. Upon
returning home, Patrick felt the call of God on his life and he
prepared himself to become a priest. Though he was thankful that he
was able to return home, he couldn't seem to forget Ireland. It is
said that while he was in Brittany Patrick had a vision, comparable
to the one that St. Paul, saw before he went to preach the gospel in
Europe. He saw someone making signs to him to come over and preach
and teach the people of Ireland.
In 432, Patrick, who was now a Bishop, set out for Ireland as a
missionary. The fact that he already spoke the people's language and
that he had a respect for the Irish culture helped him tremendously
in his work and he was gladly received by the people of the Emerald
Isle. He taught them that it was wrong to worship creation rather
than the creator and how terrible it was for them to sacrifice their
little babies in their "Valley of Slaughter", thinking that by
taking the lives of their infants they were pleasing the horrible
gods they served. For up to this point, Christianity had not made
much headway in this land where the people knew nothing of the Bible
and the Church.
Patrick had a splendid way of teaching the people. He used familiar
items and nature itself as to illustrate Biblical truths. It is said
that one time he was asked by an Irishman to explain the Trinity. So
Patrick bent down and picked a shamrock He explained that just like
the shamrock is one plant with one stem, yet has three leaves, the
Trinity is one God in three persons. He used many illustrations of
this sort to lead the people of Ireland away from their false gods
to the worship of the one true God.
Besides leading the people of Ireland away from their ancient
superstitions and to belief in God, Patrick also founded schools,
colleges, and monasteries to continue the people's growth in their
knowledge of the Lord. It was not long before Ireland became a
leader in Christianity, education, and refinement.
The facts of Patrick's death are unclear. Some say he returned to
Britain and died there while others say he died in Ireland. It is
believed that he died between 461 and 466. He soon became the patron
saint of Ireland in honor of his sacrificial work to bring
Christianity to the Irish people and March 17 was designated "St.
Patti Chadwick is the creator of
Tymes the online magazine that provides encouragement for
today's busy family. She is also the creator of
History’s Women, an online magazine highlighting the
extraordinary achievements of women throughout history.
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