In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here is a little backstory on Saint Patrick himself.
At the age of 16, Saint Patrick was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland where he became a slave to the chieftain of Ulster. One night, after six years of slavery, Saint Patrick heard a voice, “Behold, thy ship is ready.” He traveled two hundred miles on foot to a place where he knew no one and had never been. He wrote in his autobiographical account, “After this I took flight, and left the man with whom I had been six years; and I came in the strength of the Lord, who directed my way for good; and I feared nothing till I arrived at the ship. And on that same day on which I arrived, the ship moved out of its place.”
Patrick made his way back to Britain, found his family, and could have lived out the rest of his life in relative comfort in the land of freedom. But in 432 AD, he had another vision. He saw a man coming to him from Ireland carrying innumerable letters. “And I read the beginning of the letter containing ‘The voice of the Irish.’ And while I was reading aloud the beginning of the letters, I myself thought indeed in my mind that I heard the voice of those who were near the wood of Foclut, which is close by the Western Sea. And they cried out thus as if with one voice, “We entreat thee, holy youth, that thou come, and henceforth walk among us.” And I was deeply moved in my heart, and could read no further; and so I woke.”
Saint Patrick went back to Ireland as a missionary. No outside religion had penetrated Ireland in a thousand years. Saint Patrick founded more than 300 churches and baptized more than 120,000 people. His ministry was so influential that he came to be known as the one who “found Ireland all heathen and left it all Christian.”