Today is St. Patrick’s Day!
In my hometown, the day was always celebrated with a huge beer festival and being pinched if you were not wearing green.
But St. Patrick’s Day is so much more than beer and green clothing! St. Patrick was a real person and his history is actually quite beautiful.
St. Patrick grew up in a Christian family in the 400’s in Britain. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest. When he was 16, his village was raided by Irish marauders and St. Patrick was kidnapped. He was taken by ship to Ireland where he became a slave for six years. During this time, Patrick was forced to herd sheep for a local chieftain. He lived in isolation with very little food or clothing. Patrick turned to the Christian faith that he had been brought up in and it was the only thing that kept him going through those brutal years.
As he was praying one day, an angel appeared to him and told him of a ship hundreds of miles away that was leaving for his homeland. Patrick escaped from his master and walked hundreds of miles to get to the ship. He was given passage and was eventually reunited with his family. However, after a time, Patrick began having visions about Ireland. Patrick said that he heard the voice of the Irish calling out to him, “We beg you, holy boy, to come and walk among us.”
After going through a time of religious training, Patrick was made a priest and then a bishop. He returned to Ireland and shared the gospel of Jesus with the chiefs and then their clans. Patrick already knew the Irish language and their customs which helped him greatly in communicating with the people. For the rest of his life, Patrick traveled throughout Ireland, spreading the good news and converting thousands to the Christian faith.
So as we celebrate St. Patrick today, let us give thanks to God that He is always with us, even in the midst of tremendous hardship and that He is able to take our sufferings and use them to help others and to bring them out of darkness into His glorious light!