On St. Patrick’s Day everyone is at least a little bit Irish.  Right?

St. Patrick is probably the most popular saint in the world.  Even more than St. Nicholas or St. Valentine.

We’d like to tell you a few things about St. Patrick.

Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland, but he wasn’t born in Ireland.  He was born in Scotland, and he wasn’t raised Christian.

Some of you probably know the story of how he was captured by warriors at age 16 and sold as a slave to a chieftain in Ireland.  He started praying to God for help, while tending sheep in the mountains of Ireland, often praying most of the day and night.  And God protected him from the harm and the bitter cold and rain.

He was a slave for 6 years.  He came to know the language and pagan customs of the people.  Then, in a dream an angel told him it was time to leave, and directed him in a miraculous escape.  He obediently walked 200 miles to the coast where he found a ship about to sail.  The sailors refused to take him with them.  After a silent prayer to God, they agreed.  Within days he was reunited with his family.

In another dream, Patrick heard the people of Ireland pleading with him to come back and to walk with them.  He felt the desire to go.  To prepare himself he became a Catholic priest.   Afterward he was made a bishop, and then was sent to Ireland as a missionary.    Ireland at that time was a pagan country, but with God’s help, Patrick converted his former owner, and other chieftains.  He used the shamrock to explain the Trinity (3 persons in 1 God), and it has been associated with him and the Irish ever since.

Patrick preached the Gospel throughout Ireland for 40 years, converting people everywhere.  After years of living in poverty, and enduring persecutions and suffering, Patrick died in Ireland on March 17, 461, at the age of about 74.

Patrick was a humble, pious, gentle man, whose love and total devotion to God should be a shining example to each of us.

Hail, Glorious Saint Patrick, dear saint of our isle

On us, thy poor children, bestow a sweet smile

And now thou art high in the mansions above

On Erin’s green valleys look down in thy love.