Every year people celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Usually that involves wearing green, pinching people and consuming massive amounts of alcohol . I’m not really sure how those things fit into celebrating the life of Saint Patrick. It’s kind of like Easter and the Easter Bunny. There is really no correlation.
But we’ve all heard of Saint Patrick.
Unfortunately most people don’t know the first thing about him.
So I wanted to take a moment to share four facts about Saint Patrick you probably didn’t know.
#1 Saint Patrick Was Not Irish
Shocking…I know. When you think of Saint Patrick you probably think of a short man with a big red beard wearing green clothes proudly displaying a four-leaf clover on his chest . But Saint Patrick wasn’t Irish.
Saint Patrick was Roman. Or British. Or both.
He was born in Roman occupied Britain. His dad was a deacon, and his grandfather was a priest in the Catholic Church. So, Saint Patrick grew up in a religious family, but he didn’t become a follower of Christ until later on in life. In fact he was very ungodly as a youth. He allegedly murdered one of his father’s servants on the family farm when he was just a young kid.
Saint Patrick didn’t become a Christian until his early twenties.
#2 Saint Patrick Was A Slave
At age 16, Irish pirates kidnapped him and took him away to Ireland and forced him into servitude for about six years. This was obviously a difficult time in his life. He was in his mid-teens, abruptly taken away from his family, from his homeland, from everything he ever knew and everyone he ever loved. His dreams were crushed. And he was forced to live as a slave.
But it was through this difficult season that God began to grip his heart.
Tim Keller once wrote, “You don’t really know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” And that proved true for Saint Patrick.
One night Patrick received a vision from God telling him that he would soon go home. Believing what he dreamed to be of God, he acted on it and fled his master.
Saint Patrick travelled 200 miles from his place of captivity to a port where he found a ship ready to set sail. He hopped on board and made his way back home to Britain.
#3 Saint Patrick Was A Missionary
This is truly remarkable. After Patrick returned to Britain, he began to study the Christian faith in depth.
While pursuing his studies, he received another vision. In his dream he saw a man named Victoricus coming from Ireland carrying a bunch of letters in his hands. He gave a letter to Patrick. The letter was labeled “The Voice of the Irish.” Patrick began to read the letter, and in his dream he began to hear the voices of those who persecuted him saying, “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.”
Patrick believed God was calling him to return to Ireland to share the good news of the gospel with those who had treated him so poorly. And he went. And Ireland was changed forever.
#4 Saint Patrick Was A Champion Of The Gospel
Saint Patrick baptized thousands of people. He raised up church leaders to lead the new churches that he started. He evangelized everyone. The weak and the poor. The strong and the rich. The near and the far.
And it came at great cost to him.
Patrick was beaten, arrested, held captive, robbed, and may have even faced a possible execution–all because of his faith in Christ and his witness to the gospel.
That’s probably not the Saint Patrick you think of when you think of Saint Patrick. But that’s the man that he was.
Saint Patrick was a man saved by the grace of God who lived for the glory of God. He was a man who knew what it was like to take up his cross and follow Jesus every single day. He was a man who truly loved his enemies. Who believed in the power of the gospel to save anyone who believes. And he was a man who followed God’s calling on His life no matter the cost.
I think we could all learn a lot from the life of Saint Patrick.