St. Patrick: Apostle of Ireland

by | Mar 17, 2023 | Church, Family Life, Parenting, Spirituality

Happy March, everyone!

Around the world, people celebrate a Catholic feast day: St. Patrick’s Day. There are no shortage of funny hats and t-shirts sold in the month of March, making jokes about lucky shamrocks, kissing the Irish, and drinking. People love St. Patrick’s Day as an excuse to celebrate alcohol and the color green.

Growing up, St. Patrick’s day always meant more in my family. My maternal ancestors were from Ireland, and if it weren’t for St. Patrick, my family may not have been Catholic.

Patrick is now considered an Irish name, but it wasn’t originally. St. Patrick was born is England in the year 387 under the name Maewyn Succat. Captured by Irish pirates at the age of 14, he lived as a slave shepherd for 6 years. Then, God told him in a dream to escape Ireland by going to the coast. There he found sailors willing to take him home to Britain. He studied to become a priest and took the religious name Patricius, or Patrick. This name derives from the Latin term for “father figure”.

Patrick went back to Ireland, the country where he had been enslaved, to preach to the pagans and druids. There are legends that he performed miracles, survived murder attempts, and even drove the land free of serpents. It is said that he used the shamrocks that grew in the fields to illustrate the Holy Trinity to the pagans. We don’t have a lot confirmed about the 40 years he spent in Ireland, but we do know this:

St. Patrick is the apostle we should all be.

Patrick converted a nation. While the most recent census in 2021 reports that Ireland is nearly split down the middle between Catholics and Protestants, the whole nation started as pagan. He not only converted an entire nation to the one, true God, he converted a nation that enslaved him, tormented him, took his home and family and dignity from him.

God leads us in strange ways to do extraordinary things. Most of us would never think of going back to a place that caused us pain, or to a person who did us wrong. But Patrick answered the call to minister to the people he knew needed it most: the Irish. To this day, he is honored as the patron saint of Ireland, and his feast is celebrated around the world, even if it’s celebrated without its Catholic meaning. Even his name has become a staple of Ireland.

Patrick looked for God in the wind, the trees, the sheep, the people he lived among. He found Christ within him, before him, behind him, in him, beneath him, above him, at his right, at his left, when he laid down, and when he rose.

Patrick is the apostle we should all be.

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Michelle C. Martin

Michelle graduated from Texas Tech University with her husband, Joshua, in May 2021 and married him in June on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She has a degree in Communication Studies and has loved growing in knowledge of healthy and authentic relationships during her time in college and adulthood. Michelle and Joshua currently reside in Lubbock, TX where he works as an architect and she loves life as a stay-at-home wife and mother to their children, Peter and Cecilia.

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