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Historical Note Below
The Life of St. Patrick
Most of the history of his life and his spiritual writings was recorded by St. Patrick in the 'Confessio', his spiritual autobiography and one of his two short writings that have survived (a letter he wrote to Coroticus). The most interesting facts about St. Patrick are: he wasn't born in Ireland but in Britain; he was captured and spent part of his teen years as a slave in Ireland; his explanation of the Holy Trinity by using a clover; the defeat of the Druids; the name Patrick wasn't the name he was born with but given to him much later in life by Pope Celestine. It is said that St. Patrick's real name is Maewyn Succat.
St. Patrick was born in Kilpatrick, Scotland, in the year 387. His parents Calphurnius and Conchessa belonged to a Roman family of high rank. In his sixteenth year, Patrick was carried off into captivity by Irish marauders and was sold as a slave to a chieftain named Milchu in Dalaradia, a territory of the present county of Antrim in Ireland, where for six years he tended his master's sheep flocks. He acquired a perfect knowledge of the Celtic tongue in which he would one day announce the tidings of Redemption, and, as his master Milchu was a druidical high priest, he became familiar with all the details of Druidism.
He relates in his "Confessio" that during his captivity while tending the flocks he prayed many times in the day: "the love of God", he added, "and His fear increased in me more and more, and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain; nor was there any slothfulness in me, such as I see now, because the spirit was then fervent within me."
After six years he fled from his cruel master. He relates in his "Confessio" that he had to travel about 200 miles He found a ship ready to set sail and after some rebuffs was allowed on board. In a few days he was among his friends once more in Britain, but now his heart was set on devoting himself to the service of God in the sacred ministry.
A couple of months after his escape he visited the St. Martin's monastery at Tours, and later the the island sanctuary of Lerins. Patrick placed himself under the guidance of a bishop, St. Germain. A few years later Patrick was promoted to the priesthood. He engaged in various missionary works. He was chosen to accompany St. Germain to Britain to combat the erroneous teachings of Pelagius. He was privileged was his privilege to be associated with the representative of Rome in the triumphs that ensued over heresy and Paganism, and in the many remarkable events of the expedition, such as the miraculous calming of the tempest at sea, the visit to the relics at St. Alban's shrine, and the Alleluia victory. He stayed in Britain for eighteen years
During those years, Patrick's thoughts turned towards Ireland. He would often speak of his experiences in Ireland with his mentor St. Germain, Bishop of Auxerre. The bishop recommended Patrick to the pope and traveled to Rome. It was only shortly before his death that Pope Celestine entrusted Patrick with the mission of bringing Christianity to Ireland and on that occasion bestowed on him many relics and other spiritual gifts, and gave him the name "Patercius" or "Patritius". This name is derived from two Latin words pater civium meaning the father of his people.
It was probably in the summer months of the year 433, that Patrick and his companions landed at the mouth of the Vantry River close by Wicklow Head. The Druids were at once in arms against him. There are many legends of miracles and magical fights between him and the druids. For example:
-St. Patrick continued his journey over land towards Slemish. He had not proceeded far when a chieftain, named Dichu, appeared on the scene to prevent his further advance. He drew his sword to kill the saint, but his arm became rigid as a statue and continued so until he declared himself obedient to Patrick. Overcome by the saint's meekness and miracles, Dichu asked for instruction and made a gift of a large sabhall (barn). This was the first sanctuary dedicated by St. Patrick.
-The druids by their incantations overspread the hill and surrounding plain with a cloud of worse then Egyptian darkness. Patrick defied them to remove that cloud, and when all their efforts were made in vain, at his prayer the sun sent forth its rays and the brightest sunshine lit up the scene.
-By demoniac power the Arch-Druid Lochru was lifted up high in the air, but when Patrick knelt in prayer the druid from his flight was dashed to pieces upon a rock.
He was able to easily spread the word of Christianity because of his knowledge of the Celtic language. It took him several years to destroy paganism in Ireland. He conquered one kingdom after another. He survived several death threats. He tells us in his "Confessio" that no fewer than twelve times he and his companions were seized and carried off as captives, and on one occasion in particular he was loaded with chains, and his death was decreed. It is on account of the many hardships which he endured that he is also honored as a martyr.
The greatest legend of St. Patrick is the use of the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. On a Easter Sunday St. Patrick plucked a shamrock from the ground and explained by its triple leaf and single stem, in some rough way, to the assembled chieftains, the great doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. Another legend is that he banished all snakes from Ireland.
St. Patrick continued until his death to visit and watch over the churches which he had founded in all the provinces in Ireland. Despite a constant threat to his life, Patrick traveled widely, baptizing, confirming, and preaching and building churches, schools, and monasteries. Patrick succeeded in converting almost the entire population of the island. His 'Epistola' pleads the case of the Christian Irish at the hands of their British conquerors. Patrick's writings have come to be appreciated for their simplicity and humility. He comforted the faithful in their difficulties, strengthened them in the Faith and in the practice of virtue, and appointed pastors to continue his work among them. It is recorded that he consecrated no fewer than 350 bishops.
St. Patrick died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, on the 17 March, 460 A.D. This is why we celebrate St. Patrick's Day on the seventeenth of March. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland.
Some of St. Patrick's Writings
A blessing on the Munster people
-- Men, youths, and women;
A blessing on the land
That yields them fruit.
A blessing on every treasure
That shall be produced on their plains,
Without any one being in want of help,
God's blessing be on Munster.
A blessing on their peaks,
On their bare flagstones,
A blessing on their glens,
A blessing on their ridges.
Like the sand of the sea under ships,
Be the number in their hearths;
On slopes, on plains,
On mountains, on hills, a blessing.
"God, whom we announce to you, is the Ruler of all things."
"The God of heaven and earth, of the sea and the rivers."
"The God of the sun, and the moon, and all the stars."
"The God of the high mountains and of the lowlying valleys."
"The God who is above heaven, and in heaven, and under heaven."
"His dwelling is in heaven and earth, and the sea, and all therein."
"He gives breath to all."
"He gives life to all."
"He is over all."
"He upholds all."
"He gives light to the sun."
"He imparts splendour to the moon."
"He has made wells in the dry land, and islands in the ocean."
"He has appointed the stars to serve the greater lights."
"His Son is co-eternal and co-equal with Himself."
"The Son is not younger than the Father."
"And the Father is not older than the Son."
"And the Holy Ghost proceeds from them."
"The Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are undivided."
"But I desire by Faith to unite you to the Heavenly King, as you are daughters of an earthly king."
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
St. Patrick's Breast-Plate
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.
I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I bind to myself today The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.
I bind to myself today God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.
I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.
Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ within me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ at my right,
Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity The Creator of the Universe.
Additional ST. Patrick's reading at