Thursday, March 16, 2006

Saint Patrick

Patrick was born in Scotland to Roman parents. When he was sixteen, he was kidnapped by pirates and taken on a ship to Ireland. There he was sold as a slave. His owner sent him to look after his flocks of sheep on the mountains. Patrick had very little food and clothing yet he took good care of the animals in rain, snow and ice.

Patrick was so lonely on the hillside that he turned often in prayer to Jesus and his Mother Mary. His life was hard but Patrick's trust in God grew stronger all the time. Six years later, he had a dream in which he was commanded to return to Britain. He saw this as a sign and escaped from Ireland.

In Britain he studied to become a priest. Patrick had a strong feeling that he had to go back to Ireland to bring that pagan land of non-believers to Christ. At last his wish came true. He became a priest and then a bishop. Pope St. Celestine I asked Patrick to go as a missionary and preach first in England then in Ireland. How happy he was to bring the Good News of the true God to the people who once held him a slave!

Patrick suffered much in Ireland and there was always the danger that he would be killed, yet he kept on preaching about Jesus. He traveled from one village to another where tribe after tribe became Christian.

One of the pagan kings of Ireland arrested Patrick. When he saw the miracles worked by Patrick, he said, "Tell us about your God. He has given you great power." "There is but one God," answered Patrick, "and three divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." Picking up a green shamrock he said, "Even as there are three leaves on this one stern, so there are three Persons in one God." He was allowed to preach the new Faith everywhere in Ireland.

He hardly ever rested and made sacrifices and did hard penance for these people whom he loved so dearly. Before he died, within the thirty-three years he worked in Ireland, the whole nation was Christian.

He was one of the most successful missionaries in the world but his great success in no way made St. Patrick proud. He called himself a poor sinner and gave all praise to God. Patrick died in 461. We celebrate his feast day on March 17th.

O God, You sent St. Patrick to preach Your glory to the Irish people. Through his merits and intercession grant that we who have the honor of bearing the name of Christians may constantly proclaim Your wonderful designs to men. Amen.

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