In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d share a post I did on Colonial Quills last year.
One March day at church, about fifteen years ago, I was introduced to a prayer attributed to Saint Patrick. Having Irish ancestors, I had some basic knowledge about the Irish patron saint. But I was so moved by the prayer, I decided to do some more research on this iconic and legendary character.
Did you know that St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is not Irish?
He was born in Roman Britain to aristocratic parents around 385 A.D. Even though his father was a deacon and other members of his family were clergy, the family was not particularly religious. At the age of sixteen, he was captured by Irish pirates who took him to Ireland, probably around County Mayo, and sold him into slavery. While there he was assigned to tend sheep. It was during that period in relative isolation that his prayer life developed and he began to believe that his captivity may well have been part of God’s plan. He began to dream that he was to free the Irish people from their druid beliefs and to share the gospel of Christ with them. After six years, Patrick believed he heard from God that he was to escape and make his way back to Britain. When he had walked the two hundred miles to the Irish coast, God gave him another revelation; that he would return to Ireland as a missionary.
He was reunited with his family in England briefly before departing for France where he would remain for fifteen years. In France he entered the priesthood and studied under the missionary St. Germain. However, he never lost
sight of his dream of returning to Ireland to spread “The Good News”.
Around 431, Patrick was consecrated Bishop of the Irish and returned to the island of his captivity. While he initially experienced some resistance, Patrick eventually convinced the Druids to abandon their belief system that kept them enslaved and convinced them to find freedom in Christ. He built up the church in Ireland, establishing monasteries and organizing the land into dioceses. Patrick died March 17, 461 in Saul, County Down, Ireland where he is said to be buried.
Did you know that St. Patrick did not introduce Christianity to Ireland?
He was not the first Christian missionary, but he was the most successful.
Did you know that St. Patrick did not chase the snakes out of Ireland?
That’s the stuff of legends. However, if the snake is a symbol of paganism, St. Patrick can be credited as removing paganism from Ireland and converting it to Christianity.
St. Patrick used the shamrock, a common clover, as a metaphor to teach the Irish people about the Trinity.
Do you know when St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in the colonies?
St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated as a Catholic Holy Day in the U.S. in Boston in 1737.
The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was not in Ireland, but in Boston in 1762 when Irish soldiers serving in the British army marched in New York to honor their Irish heritage.
As the Irish migrated, more people became familiar with the remarkable story of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day remains a Holy Day in the Roman Catholic, and some Protestant denominations. For many throughout the world, St. Patrick’s Day is a secular holiday, celebrated with parades, traditional Irish meals and all sorts of festivities.
ST. PATRICK’S PRAYER
“I rise today in the power’s strength, invoking the Trinity believing in threeness, confessing the oneness, of creation’s Creator.
I rise today in the power of Christ’s birth and baptism, in the power of his crucifixion and burial, in the power of his rising and ascending, in the power of his descending and judging.
I rise today in the power of the love of cherubim, in the obedience of angels and service of archangels, in hope of rising to receive the reward, in the prayers of patriarchs, in the predictions of the prophets, in the preaching of apostles, in the faith of confessors, in the innocence of holy virgins, in the deeds of the righteous.
I rise today in heaven’s might, in sun’s brightness, in moon’s radiance, in fire’s glory, in lightning’s quickness, in wind’s swiftness, in sea’s depth, in earth’s stability, in rock’s fixity.
I rise today with the power of God to pilot me, God’s strength to sustain me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look ahead for me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to protect me, God’s way before me, God’s shield to defend me, God’s host to deliver me, from snares of devils, from evil temptations, from nature’s failings, from all who wish to harm me, far or near, alone and in a crowd.
Around me I gather today all these powers against every cruel and merciless force to attack my body and soul, against the charms of false prophets, the black laws of paganism, the false laws of heretics, the deceptions of idolatry, against spells cast by women, smiths, and druids, and all unlawful knowledge that harms the body and soul.
May Christ protect me today against poison and burning, against drowning and wounding, so that I may have abundant reward; Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me; Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me; Christ to the right of me, Christ to the left of me; Christ in my lying, Christ in my sitting, Christ in my rising; Christ in the heart of all who think of me, Christ on the tongue of all who speak to me, Christ in the eye of all who see me, Christ in the ear of all who hear me.
I rise today in power’s strength, invoking the Trinity, believing in threeness, confessing the oneness, of creation’s Creator. For to the Lord belongs salvation, and to the Lord belongs salvation and to Christ belongs salvation. May your salvation, Lord, be with us always.”