Skip to comments.St. Patrick: One of the Greatest Missionaries Who Ever Lived
Posted on 03/18/2011 10:33:12 AM PDT by RnMomof7
My family name was originally ODriscoll until it was changed a few generations ago by relatives hoping to more fully assimilate into American culture after immigrating from Ireland. Though I was raised Irish Catholic, I knew virtually nothing about Saint Patrick other than the green beer, parades, shamrocks, leprechauns, and drunken Red Sox fans that celebrated in his honor every March 17th
. Technically, Saint Patrick is not even a saint, as he was never canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.
Additionally, Patrick was not even Irish. Rather, he was a Roman-Britain who spoke Latin and a bit of Welsh.
Patrick was born around 390 A.D. When he was roughly 16 years of age he was captured by pirates and taken to Ireland on a ship where he was sold into slavery. He spent the next six years alone in the wilderness as a shepherd for his masters cattle and sheep.
Isolation Patrick was a rebellious non-Christian teenager who had come from a Christian family. His grandfather was a pastor, and his father was a deacon. However, during his extended periods of isolation without any human contact, Patrick began praying and was eventually born again into a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. Patrick endured the years of isolation in rain and snow by praying up to 100 prayers each day and another 100 each night. In his early twenties God spoke to Patrick in a dream, telling him to flee from his master for a ship that was waiting for him.
Amazingly, Patrick made the 200-mile journey on foot without being caught or harmed to find a ship setting sail for his home, just as God had promised. The sailors were out of food for the journey, and after Patrick prayed a herd of pigs miraculously ran toward the ship, providing a bountiful feast for the long voyage home.
God Speaks to Patrick
Upon returning home, Patrick enrolled in seminary and was eventually commissioned as a pastor. Some years later God spoke to Patrick in a dream, commanding him to return to Ireland to preach the gospel and plant churches for the pagans who lived there.
The Roman Catholic Church had given up on converting such barbarians deemed beyond hope. The Celtic peoples, of which the Irish were part, were an illiterate bunch of drunken, fighting, perverted pagans who basically had sex with anyone and worshiped anything.
They were such a violent and lawless people, numbering anywhere from 200,000 to 500,000, that they had no city centers or national government and were spread out among some 150 warring clans. Their enemies were terrified of them because they were known to show up for battles and partake in wild orgies before running into battle naked and drunk while screaming as if they were demon-possessed. One clan was so debased that it was customary for each of their new kings to copulate with a white mare as part of his inauguration.
Unique Missionary Strategy
In faith, the forty-something year-old Patrick sold all of his possessions, including the land he had inherited from his father, to fund his missionary journey to Ireland. He worked as an itinerant preacher and paid large sums of money to various tribal chiefs to ensure he could travel safely through their lands and preach the gospel. His strategy was completely unique, and he functioned like a missionary trying to relate to the Irish people and communicate the gospel in their culture by using such things as three-leaf clovers to explain the gospel.
Upon entering a pagan clan, Patrick would seek to first convert the tribal leaders and other people of influence. He would then pray for the sick, cast demons out of the possessed, preach the Bible, and use both musical and visual arts to compel people to put their faith in Jesus. If enough converts were present he would build a simple church that did not resemble ornate Roman architecture, baptize the converts, and hand over the church to a convert he had trained to be the pastor so that he could move on to repeat the process with another clan. Patrick gave his life to the people who had enslaved him until he died at 77 years of age.
He had seen untold thousands of people convert as between 30-40 of the 150 tribes had become substantially Christian. He had trained 1000 pastors, planted 700 churches, and was the first noted person in history to take a strong public stand against slavery.
Curiously, Patricks unorthodox ministry methods, which had brought so much fruit among the Irish, also brought much opposition from the Roman Catholic Church. Because Patrick was so far removed from Roman civilization and church polity he was seen by some as an instigator of unwelcome changes. This led to great conflicts between the Roman and Celtic Christians. The Celtic Christians had their own calendar and celebrated Easter a week earlier than their Roman counterparts. Additionally, the Roman monks shaved only the hair on the top of their head, whereas the Celtic monks shaved all of their hair except their long locks which began around the bottom of their head as a funky monk mullet.
The Romans considered these and other variations by the Celtic Christian leaders to be acts of insubordination. In the end, the Roman Church should have learned from Patrick, who is one of the greatest missionaries who has ever lived. Though Patricks pastors and churches looked different in method, they were very orthodox in their theology and radically committed to such things as Scripture and the Trinity. Additionally, they were some of the most gifted Christian artists the world has ever known, and their prayers and songs endure to this day around the world, including at Mars Hill where we occasionally sing the "Prayer of Saint Patrick" and the Celtic hymn "Be Thou My Vision."
An Irish ping a day late, but always on time :)
It was the only way he could get us Irish to walk on our hind legs!
I find that interesting.
Thanks for the history lesson. I was aware of some of this. A fascinating man who lived in a fascinating time!
Do you notice that it is the Christian worldview that restrains sexuality....to make it a sin to copulate with anything, anybody and animals.
That is what happened in the Roman empire. It is what Judaism did—outlawed the pagan incest and orgies, and vile, inhumane use of the body (homosexuality) which led to barbarism and no civility or respect for human beings....esp. children and women.
That is what Marxist worldview is trying to recreate....remove all restraint on the sex drive. (Marcuse—who designed a Freudian/Marxism curricula to destroy morality in children in the schools). It is to create chaos and barbarism....an underclass which will be easy to enslave since they are only concerned and enslaved by their passions and nothing else.
It is why Christianity is the rock of Western Civilization and led to the most successful, creative, free cultures in the history of the world. Worldview is everything. Read Dalrymple’s Life at the Bottom...the Worldview that makes the underclass.
Postmodernism....(Marxism) is nihilism and destroying civility, to create an underclass of non-thinking, copulating, narcissistic irresponsible, unproductive drudges. Nietzsche was so correct about mankind and his prediction of Hitlers for the future when he declared, “God is Dead”.
As far as him running afoul of the "Roman Catholic church" ... he was the Roman Catholic church in Ireland for much of his career.
The What Does the Prayer Really Say blog yesterday included a stirring/beautiful/powerful podcast reading of the Breastplate of St. Patrick prayer, a prayer I was unfamiliar with but have since looked up. I can’t believe there is so much wealth in the Church which seems to stay stored up in the attic simply so the rooms below might seem more open and spacious and modern. I know many people might be skimming past reading this thread since it is the day after St. Patrick’s Day and thoughts are turned elsewhere, but please go listen to the podcast of the prayer today when you have time to really listen.
His mission in Ireland, by way of his successors (St. Columba and the other “12 Apostles of Ireland”), led to re-Christianizing Britain and Continental Europe after pagan barbarian invasions of the fifth century pushed the Roman Church back to the gates of Rome.
Patrick’s glories are more than parochial, or even pre-national. Read Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization for an eye-opening story of the ultimate fruits of Patrick’s labors. http://www.amazon.com/Irish-Saved-Civilization-Hinges-History/dp/0385418493/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1300472271&sr=1-1
St. Patricks Breast-Plate
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.
I bind to myself today
Gods Power to guide me,
Gods Might to uphold me,
Gods Wisdom to teach me,
Gods Eye to watch over me,
Gods Ear to hear me,
Gods Word to give me speech,
Gods Hand to guide me,
Gods Way to lie before me,
Gods Shield to shelter me,
Gods Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.
I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.
Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
Dittoes for “How the Irish Saved Civilization”
Ironic after reading the description of the barbarians prior.. :)
Thanks for bringing up. No matter what view of St Patrick. It certainly is not a Irish holiday only for an excuse to drink excessively. It is at it’s real core a Christian Holiday for all. If we were all like St Patrick the flesh, The world and the devil would Tremble. Thanks for open discussion. I have learned Free Republic should represent Free Open exchange for sharing our thoughts on a subject with respect for all. This is great for a discussion. Thanks again!
One that really stands out was the Celtic King who told St Patrick if he can raise his dead king father from the dead he will believe and make sure others do believe. He told the king he will pray on it. Well Patrick fasted and prayed all night went to the shoveled up grave of the Former King. He rebuked death and the man came alive from hell to tell his son that everything Patrick said is true. Then he (the former King) asked Patrick to be saved. He then died in Glory in front of the son.
No matter what that's some story!
I don’t know why the writer says Patrick isn’t a saint. He is on the calendar and we observed his commemoration on 3/17. He has a “proper” reading and prayer in my breviary. It doesn’t get much more official than that.
That’s an interesting bit of history which I never heard before.
Actually, the evidence that Patrick made it to Rome to be commissioned by the Pope is rather sparse (this was the beginning of the (so-called) "Dark Ages" after all)--which many historians don't accept as authentic.
Celtic Christianity too, did differ on the holidays, and other customs (which were considered very important) and was not seen by Rome to be in obedience until the 600s, 200 years AFTER Patrick. The Celtic monasteries even sent their own missionaries, NOT under the supervision of Rome down into Germany, Poland, France, and even northern Italy. These monasteries and missionaries were not brought under the supervision of Rome until St. Boniface in the 700s.
The idea of Patrick as a compliant Bishop sent from Rome appears to be itself a later medieval historical revision...
There was no formal canonization process for Saints, as we have today, in this early period. A person just needed to be locally known as a godly Christian example to be regarded as a “Saint.”
If you look up other Celtic Christian notables, virtually all of them are called “Saints” and are folks generally we’ve never heard of (thought about St. Willibald recently, or raised a glass to St. Briget?) unless you’re an historian of Celtic Christianity.
Patrick is regarded as a Saint in the traditional sense...but, he went through no formal canonization (the 2 miracles, and other requirements to be approved of by Rome) which is what Driscoll was referring to.
Indeed we that have some Irish in us should look at the real meaning of the work of Patrick . It is not about dark beer and corned beef.. (although I like both.. ) it is about the gospel going forth
He was a man of God that converted a nation of heathens.. (yea my ancestors:)
You might like to read a little more on Patrick
His given name was Maewyn Succot. He became known as Patrick later, perhaps after death. He was a humble and truly devout servant of God, of that this Protestant has no doubt.
Great info AR ... Catholics think Church history started with the rule of Rome.. there was certainly Christian history before there was a papacy or a strong Rome
And indeed Patrick was a saint in the biblical sense ...
Yeah. That was kind of my point. A canonization process wasn’t always the way to be “official”.
I never knew that... Thanks
You know the old wives tale that he drove the snakes out of Ireland.. I think of Christ promise to the apostles in Matthew that they would pick up serpents . Patrick was a man of God ..
I have never researched if there was an official canonization of the apostles ....Don’t know and it does not matter.
God set forth the criteria for sainthood.. and that was believing in the gospel . There are many that have lived lives that evidence their faith in Christ as Lord and Savior ... if it is good enough for God.it is good enough for me :)
Happy St Pats day MD
From our POV, there are a lot more Saints than are on the calendar. That’s one reason for “All Saints Day”: it’s the “for those we didn’t mention or don’t know about” day.
I think the main reason for an “official” list is assurance. I mean, suppose some folks were celebrating “St. Pelagius” or “St. Arius”. That might lead somebody else to wonder. So there is a mechanism to provide some kind of assurance.
I’m spitballing. But that’s my guess.
Today we celebrate Holy Joseph. Now THERE is a GUY!
When you celebrate all saints day..you are celebrating all those that have Jesus as Lord..including me :)
A link to the words of Patrick for the interested
Thank you for the link to “Confessio.”
Here is “Letter To Coroticus”:
Sounds a bit reformed huh?
Warning, this post has nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with bigotry. All Catholic and Orthodox Catholic posters, as well as all Christians of good will, are advised to avoid such threads as they are here to generate hate, not the love of Christ.
For most of Christianitys first 1,000 years, canonizations were done on the diocesan or regional level. Relatively soon after very holy people died, the local Church affirmed that they could be liturgically celebrated as saints.
That was the case with St. Patrick, whose feast has not been dropped from the Churchs universal calendar. Because it usually falls on a weekday during Lent, the opening prayer at Mass can be for St. Patrick, but everything else comes from the Lenten weekday prayers.
Many have heard more than just an echo. Made himself bishop, predestinated by God. He understood repentance to be more than doing penance. The Church he established, the Irish Church, was independent of Rome for centuries, and then was brought back in, the inverse of the Reformation, but certain themes do resound.
It’s often difficult to sort out the truth of the matter, what with there being so much desire to claim Patrick, such a clearly devout man who made such a difference in the world, far beyond Ireland and long after he left it. That’s why I rely upon the only two documents clearly authored by him, the two we have linked here, “Confessio” and “Letter To Coroticus.” The rest would appear to have been revised or embellished to me. Translations from Patrick’s vulgar Latin tend to vary in favor of one side or the other, too, with either one being arguably correct.
How is this hate Sal? One may not agree..but that is what forums are for...