When most people think of St. Patrick's Day, they think of cute little leprechauns with orange beards, pots of gold at the end of a rainbow, and the fact that if they don't wear green, they'll get pinched. But for me, when St. Patrick's Day rolls around, I think of the man for which it is named. Patrick was an amazingly devoted Christian man with true love for the people of Ireland, and his tireless missionary work and extraordinary courage still inspires me today.
When he was born in 416 AD (a date which is occasionally disputed), he was named Maewyn Succat. He was not born in Ireland, but in Wales, a nearby island. Raised as a Roman Catholic, Maewyn had little education in his early life, but he did learn a deep faith and love for God.
Maewyn had difficulty expressing himself to people, a fact which caused him much discomfort. However, he put his trust in God, and lived happily for most of his life.
At the age of 16, Maewyn was captured by raiders who attacked the coast on which he lived. He was taken aboard a ship and borne to Ireland, where he was sold as a slave.
For six years, he worked as a sheperd for a man named Michul. He spent his days alone with the herds of sheep on a beautiful but lonely mountain. Each day, he poured out his heart to God in prayer, asking for courage and strength when he was far from his home and family. God sustained him in his solitude, and comforted him in his time of need.
It was through Him that Maewyn recieved a vision, telling him of God's plan to free him. In the vision, Maewyn saw that a ship was waiting in a nearby harbor to take him home.
Without delay, Maewyn fled the mountains and made his way to where the ship waited. Sure enough, it was there, just as the vision had foretold.
When Maewyn finally made it home to Wales, he was 22. There, he was happily reunited with his family and friends.
For a long time, Maewyn had wanted to become a priest, so he set off to college and began to study. After seven years of intense work, he was ordained, and became a bishop. It was then that he received the name that has since become famous throughout the world; Patrick.
One night, Patrick had another vision. In the vision, the people of Ireland begged him to return and walk among them to share his light with them. So, after much prayer, Patrick and several of his friends made the journey to Ireland.
When they arrived, those people who had known Patrick in the days of his slavery remembered him, and welcomed him back warmly.
Patrick set out at once to teaching the gospel and starting churches throughout the land. Often during his surmons, he would use a shamrock as an example of the Trinity. He compared the three leaves of the shamrock to the three aspects of God's personality- The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each one is separate, yet they are all part of the same structure; the same God. They are three, but they are one.
Patrick almost single-handedly brought Christianity to Ireland, and also published three books. In 460 AD, Patrick went home to the Lord, and was mourned widely. He is believed to have been buried in Downpatrick, Ireland.