St. Patrick Ended Child Sacrifice in Ireland. Will Fine Gael Bring It Back?
Today the world commemorates St. Patrick’s Day with revelries, drunkenness and cartoonish leprechauns. But the great evangelist known for Christianizing Ireland in the fifth century deserves better remembrance. In fact, Patrick is a model of Christian virtue to be emulated.
Roaming bandits kidnapped Patrick from his home in Britain when he was a young man. They enslaved him for years in Ireland. Nevertheless, God used that experience for good. He inspired Patrick to become a bishop, and eventually to call the land where he had been a captive to repentance. Patrick lamented that the people of Ireland “never had the knowledge of God, but until now only worshipped idols and abominations.” Thus began the task of cultural reconstruction.
How Patrick Defeated Paganism
Except for two letters written by Patrick himself, details are scant about his life and ministry. But later accounts allege that he fearlessly spread the Gospel and actively condemned barbaric cultural practices. At that time, Ireland was controlled by the Druids. These pagan warlocks are believed to have regularly practiced human sacrifice, particularly of newborns, to please their bloodthirsty idols.
According to the legend, the Druids had assembled before the king for an occult festival celebrating the Spring solstice. During the festival, no other fires were allowed to burn but their own. St. Patrick and a few other Christians ascended the Hill of Slane, like Elijah before the prophets of Baal, and defied the law by building a massive bonfire that all could see. Patrick literally “let light shine out of darkness” as a witness to the glory of God.
Patrick was brought before the king where he professed the blood of Christ as the sacrifice for all time and condemned the Druid sacrifices. At this, the queen and many courtiers repented and were converted. According to lore, Patrick baptized thousands. His brave action on the Hill of Slane broke the back of paganism in Ireland and effectively ended human sacrifice and slavery across the island.
His brave action on the Hill of Slane broke the back of paganism in Ireland and effectively ended human sacrifice and slavery across the island.
The Return of Child Sacrifice
It may be no coincidence that even today, abortion—child sacrifice to the idol of convenience—remains illegal in almost all cases on the Emerald Isle. Nevertheless, there remain a few snakes in Ireland.
The conservative Fine Gael party, which controls the Irish parliament is now split on whether to support abortion legalization. Despite running as a pro-life candidate, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has announced that he will campaign to overturn Ireland’s Eighth Amendment, which prohibits abortion. He claims his views on abortion have “evolved.” Micheál Martin, the opposition leader, has also declared support for repealing the Eighth.
Why now? International abortion groups are driving the agenda. Amnesty International even took an illegal €137,000 grant from George Soros to liberalize Ireland’s abortion laws. And pro-abortion giants have funneled millions of dollars from international sources to promote the repeal campaign.
“I fear nothing, because of the promises of Heaven.”
The Irish people today face a struggle unlike anything since the days of St. Patrick. A referendum on the Eighth Amendment will be held before the end of summer. Yet two-thirds of Ireland still believes abortion should not be available-on-request. Perhaps a pro-life majority will yet rise up, reject abortion extremism, and save the Eighth. A new cultural renewal is needed, and there is much work to be done.
God Save the Irish
Patrick wrote, “Daily I expect to be murdered or betrayed or reduced to slavery. … But I fear nothing, because of the promises of Heaven.” His desire was that Christ be remembered, “in the heart of every man who thinks of me; Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me.”
This St. Patrick’s Day, let us pray that Christ would be remembered in all those who labor for life in Ireland. Let the Irish be inspired by the spirit of St. Patrick to fight against child-sacrifice in their great country. And with the same courage that Patrick drew upon to confront the evil of his time, let us rise to confront the evils of ours, armed with the Word of our testimony and the blood of Lamb, so that Christ’s name is proclaimed over all.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
Josh Craddock lives with his wife and two children in Cambridge, Massachusetts.