St. Patrick

According to legend, St. Patrick's cathedral in Dublin, Ireland was built on the site of a well that St. Patrick used to baptize converts in the 5th century. It is thought that a small wooden church existed on the site as early as 450 A.D., and a stone church was built in 1191 by the Normans. It is Dublin's second great Protestant cathedral, the largest church in Ireland and the national church.

St. Patrick is thought to have lived around 385-460 A.D. His father was a Roman government official. His family's name was Succat. When Patrick was 16, he was kidnapped and carried away to northern Ireland and sold as a slave. He lived the hard life of a shepherd-slave on the slopes of Slemish mountain in what is now Ulster.

"The life of a shepherd-slave could not have been a happy one...The work of such shepherds was bitterly isolated, months at a time spent alone in the hills. Deprived of intercourse with other humans, Patricus must have taken a long time to master the language and customs of his exile, so that the approach of strangers over the hills may have held special terror. We know that he did have two constant companions, hunger and nakedness, and the gnawing in his belly and the chill on his exposed skin were his worst sufferings, acutely painful presences that could not be shaken off... Like many another in impossible circumstances, he began to pray... ...Patricus endured six years of this woeful isolation, and by the end of it he had grown from a careless boy to something he would surely never otherwise become-a holy man..." -How the Irish saved civilization by Thomas Cahill page 101

Patrick heard God's voice in a dream telling him a ship was waiting for him, and so he headed for the sea coast-200 miles away. Patrick studied several years in Europe to attempt to make up for the education he had missed and then returned to Ireland a bishop to convert the people who had once held him slave. It is very striking to me that Patrick returned to Ireland, at the time they were a very wild, violent, pagan people. The Romans in their first encounters with the Irish, were afraid of them. "The Irish, like all the celts, stripped before battle and rushed their enemy n*ked, carrying sword and shield but wearing only sandals and torc...The Romans, in their first encounters with these exposed, insane warriors, were shocked and frightened. Not only were the men n*ked, they were howling and,it seemed, possessed by demons..." -Cahil page 83

Irish society at that time was ruled by different tribal kings, they were a people of war and offerred up human sacrifices. Patrick, in returning there to preach the gospel was a real life portrait of one loving his enemy. Cahil writes,..."Nor was he blind to his dangers, for even in his last years "every day I am ready to be murdered, betrayed, enslaved-whatever may come my way. But I am not afraid of any of these things, because of the promises of heaven; for I have put myself in the hands of God Almighty.".. His love for his adopted people shines through his writings...the horror of slavery was never lost on him...In his last years, he could probably look out over an Ireland transformed by his teaching...Within his lifetime or soon after his death, the Irish slave trade came to a halt, and other forms of violence, such as murder and intertribal warfare, decreased." -Cahil page 108-110

"In becoming an Irishman, Patrick wedded his world to theirs, his faith to their life...Patrick found a way of swimming down to the depths of the Irish psyche and warming and transforming Irish imagination-making it more humane and more noble while keeping it Irish..." -Cahil page 115

"Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!" Acts 28:28