Honoring Saint Patrick

By Amelia Hamilton Published on March 17, 2015

Today, we celebrate the feast of Saint Patrick (387-461). While this is a day that has seeped into secular culture with pub crawls and green galore, we need to take the time to remember what Saint Patrick’s Day is really about — Saint Patrick!

While Saint Patrick is inextricably tied to Ireland, he was actually born in Scotland to Roman parents. As a young teenager, he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland, at the time a Druid and pagan country. There, he was enslaved as a shepherd, but never forgot God. He later wrote that, during this time, “the love of God and his fear grew in me more and more.” At the age of twenty, God came to Patrick in a dream, telling him to escape Ireland by going to the coast. He obeyed, and met up with sailors who took him back to Britain and his family.

Determined to be a priest, Patrick was ordained by Saint Germanus, and then ordained a Bishop. He was asked to return to Ireland, this time as a free man to bring the Gospel to the Irish people. He arrived in 433, began preaching the gospel and bringing many, including Irish kings, to Christ. In the forty years in which he was active in Ireland, Patrick consecrated 350 bishops, built 700 churches, and ordained 5,000 priests. In his brief decades of work, he brought a country of pagans to Christ.

He died on March 17, 461 in Saul, where he had built his first church. It is said that Saint Patrick performed a thousand miracles, 33 of which were resurrection miracles.  He has never been formally canonized by a Pope as, for most of early Christianity, canonizations were done at the diocesan or regional level. Still, many Christian churches consider him a saint, and he is on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church.

If you are looking for prayers specific to today, you might try a Chaplet of Saint Patrick. Or, to best understand Saint Patrick, pray this prayer throughout the day, which he wrote:

Prayer for the Faithful by Saint Patrick

May the Strength of God guide us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us.
— Against the snares of the evil one.

May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!

May Thy Grace, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen.

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