Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland
St. Patrick's Day is more than just a celebration of all things Irish, it's the celebration of the spirit of the Irish people, embodied in a single man. St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. Patrick was taken prisoner around the age of 16 by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They brought him to Ireland and sold him into slavery where he spent six years as a shepherd, and during which time he learned the Irish language, and prayed, becoming immersed in his Christian spirituality where he found solace. He had two visions, one which told him to return to his home, the second told him the boat was ready. He walked 200 miles to the coast, boarded the ship and returned to his native land. After he returned home he traveled to Gaul and joined the priesthood, studying under St. Germanus, he was consecrated as a bishop, and sent to Ireland. He was sent to succeed St Palladius, who had not had much success converting the Irish, but Patrick had a dream of the voices of the Irish, entreating him to return. His depth of faith enabled him to return to the land of his enslavement where he worked diligently to convert the Irish to Christianity. It took much work, because the Irish were unwilling to convert, and had trouble relating to the "new" religion. Patrick kept his faith, and through his teachings of Christ on the cross, and by using the three leaves of the native shamrock plant to explain the Holy Trinity he was able to convert much of the country and earned the nickname " enlightener of Ireland" Patrick's great love of the Irish, despite his slavery at their hands early in his life enabled him to save them, this noble cause is why we celebrate him and he has become a symbol of Ireland representing not just the religious faith of the Irish, but also the perseverance of the Irish people against seemingly great odds. His humility in his mission is widely known, and the following quote attributed to him. “I owe it to God’s grace that through me so many people should be born again to Him.” Perseverance, grace, humility. It doesn't get more Irish than that.