Patrick, Missionary to Ireland
Updated: Nov 9
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Today is a holiday that many people celebrate, but that few know the story behind. St. Patrick's Day was actually meant to be a day to commemorate a daring missionary. It is not about luck, but about God's providence in using a former slave to reach the people of Ireland with the gospel.
Succat was born to a British, Christian family towards the end of the Roman Era. At age sixteen, his hometown was attacked by Irish warriors. His home was burned, and he was captured and taken back to Ireland as a slave. There he experienced the violence and pagan beliefs of this land. He worked as a herdsman for his master for six years. During that time, he converted to his family's faith. He would use his time in the fields every day to pray to God, and thus cultivated a strong relationship with Him.
One day, Succat heard a voice telling him that, "Your ship is ready." He escaped his master, and traveled 200 miles until he reached a port where he found and boarded a ship heading to Britain. Succat made it back to his hometown and was reunited with his family. While there, he had a dream that the people of Ireland were calling him to come back. He acted on this dream and returned to Ireland as a missionary around AD 431, taking on a new name, Patrick.
Patrick was willing to take great risks in order to get the gospel message out. He was partaking in a dangerous work, and daily expected murder. He was opposed by kings and druids (Irish pagan priests), but he did not back down. Instead, he trusted that God would protect him. It is said that once an ambush party seeking to kill Patrick saw only a deer when he approached! Another cause he took up throughout his ministry in Ireland was that of slavery. He fought against it and wrote an important letter to a slave owner. As a result of Patrick's efforts among a people that not even the Romans had been able to conquer, the gospel was spread and pagan practices stopped.
St. Patrick's Day is recorded as being celebrated as early as the year AD 797. The shamrock that is so often associated with St. Patrick's Day was used by Patrick as an illustration for the Trinity. Now you can celebrate this holiday knowing its true meaning. As often as you think to today, take time to thank God for His life-changing work throughout the world, and in you.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Swanson, Kevin. Taking the world for Jesus. Master Books, 2017. (pages 69-70)
Cagney, Mary. "Patrick the Saint." Christian History Institute
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