Like all saints, Patrick the Saint is revered by devout Christians for his holiness of life. What probably distinguishes him most for people today, however, was his tenacious spirit and adventuresome life.
Early Life of Saint Patrick
- Patrick’s birthplace is unknown. He names the town Bannavem Taburniae, but scholars can’t agree as to where precisely this is; most all agree, however, that he was from a wealthy family in England or Scotland.
- Religion was in Patrick’s his blood; his father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest, though Patrick was, by his own account, not very religious as a boy.
- At sixteen he was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. There he worked as a shepherd for at least six years.
- Guided by a dream he eventually escaped and made his way home. His family, who had believed him dead, were overjoyed to receive him back. Before long, though, he moved to France to join a monastery and prepare for the priesthood. His life had changed.
The Man: Patrick the Saint
- Patrick had missed the better part of his schooling and so was, on his own account, “unlettered, rustic, and least of all the faithful”. It shows in his Latin.
- Despite all of this Patrick the Saint was a tenacious pastor. He convinced his superiors that despite his poor learning and apparently mediocre preaching he should be sent back to Ireland to convert the Irish. Eventually they did just that.
- Patrick baptized literally tens of thousands and ordained hundreds of priests. He also built churches and monasteries all over Ireland. Medieval annals consistently name him among the most prolific and successful missionaries in history.
- Outrageous legends grew up around Patrick: walking through fire, doing battle with wizards, banishing snakes, turning into a deer. Though these stories strike us as over-the-top, at the time it was a sign of real respect and admiration that such could be attributed to him.
Did you enjoy this post on St Patrick? He spoke Irish Gaelic. That’s Ireland’s language that he used to spread his word. Click here to learn Irish Gaelic sayings for St Patrick’s Day.