Saint Patrick

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By Catholic Digest Staff


Saint Patrick

Feast Day: March 17


Irish raiders kidnapped Patrick from his family’s estate when he was only a boy, smuggling him across the ocean. In the northern part of Ireland, Patrick was forced into slavery for six years. To make matters worse for the young lad, his humiliation of being a slave was compounded by his previously affluent position in society. Denied the education he would have been entitled too, Patrick spoke his native language poorly, having to adopt the language of his captors. Constantly exposed to the harsh climate, alienated, hungry, and alone, Patrick turned to God. It was through prayer that young Patrick found relief and comfort. Eventually he even decided that his captivity was a blessing, because it had brought him the joy of God. After committing his life to prayer he had a dream in which he was told, “Soon you will go back to your own country…see, your ship is ready.” Patrick escaped captivity, hiking almost 200 miles to the coast, where he found a ship preparing to set sail to his homeland. His journey as a saint had begun.

 

St. Patrick is, of course, known for his shamrock-oriented missionary work in Ireland. But while it was he who helped establish native clergy in the north, it was either British or Gaulish traders and missionaries in the southeast who were the first to introduce the country to Christianity. St. Palladius, sent to Ireland in 431, also predated Patrick’s efforts to evangelize to the Irish. And while he helped to build the faith of others, St. Patrick wasn’t immune to his own, temporary, crisis of faith. In his Confession, Patrick, frustrated by the British bishops writes, “When I was attacked by some of my seniors who came and urged my sins against my laborious episcopate I was strongly driven to fall away, here and for ever.”

Catholic Digest Staff