Who was Saint Patrick?

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“I am Patrick, a sinner, most unlearned, the least of all the faithful, and utterly despised by many.” “I was like a stone lying in the deep mire; and He that is mighty came and in His mercy lifted me up.”

Apart from a free day on the 17th of March, Saint Patrick is remembered in many stories and folklore as an heroic preacher who must have lived 70 lives if we believe all that is said about him. However, two genuine writings of Saint Patrick are in existence today. These writings have become public only during the last century, and for your convenience I have put them all together on this site.

One is “The Confession”, an autobiography of Saint Patrick near the end of his life. Another is “A letter to Coroticus”, containing a fierce complaint against Coroticus who had raided a number of Patrick’s converts. A third writing, not from Patrick’s hand, but closely connected with him, is “The Hymn,” written in ancient Irish, and also known as “The Breastplate“. Another old hymn on St Patrick is written by a certain Secundicus. All we know historically and accurately must come from these sources!

In these we are able to meet the “Real Saint Patrick,” and what a striking difference there is. On this page, we will give an overview of St. Patrick’s live by his own words. Stay on to meet the real Saint Patrick!

He was utterly devoted to Jesus Christ. He preached a simple message. Snakes, leprechauns and charms were distant from him. He believed the Sacred Scriptures to be supreme in matters of faith and life.

Saint Patrick, “The Apostle of Ireland”, was born about the end of the 4th century, probably somewhere along the west coast of Britain. It was a time of tumult: the hordes of Goths and barbarians from Northern Europe began hammering at the door of Rome. Rome summoned its soldiers home from Britain. This was the signal for Irish raiders to harass the well-stocked towns of the Romans in Britain. On one of these raids, Patrick, at the age of 16 years, was carried away as a slave.

Saint Patrick grew up in a Christian family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest. Surely, he was nourished with all the Christian love and grace a child can receive. However, he writes: “I was then about sixteen years of age. I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity to Ireland with many thousands of people – and deservedly so,” “I did not believe the living God, nor did I so from my childhood, but lived in death and unbelief”

In Ireland, being sold as a slave to tend sheep, Saint Patrick started to think about God again. He believed his sufferings were a punishment for his careless life. His next step was repentance and he turned to God with all his heart.

“And there the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and be converted with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my abjection, and mercy on my youth and ignorance, and watched over me before I knew Him, and before I was able to distinguish between good and evil, and guarded me, and comforted me as would a father his son.”

After six years Saint Patrick escaped and returned home; but after some years he felt called to return to Ireland and preach the message of salvation by faith. “I must not, however, hide God’s gift which He bestowed upon me in the land of my captivity (… the gift so great, so salutary – to know God and to love Him…); because then I earnestly sought Him, and there I found Him, and He saved me from all evil because – so I believe – of His Spirit that dwells in me.”

Now, possibly at the age of 40 years (or elder), Patrick returns to Ireland, facing many hardships “daily I expect murder, fraud, or captivity, or whatever it may be;” for the sake of “the Gospel and its promises” so that “a great multitude and throng might be caught for God”. “For I am much God’s debtor, who gave me such great grace that many people were reborn in God through me”.

This work of faith and labour of love made Ireland afterwards “The Isle of Saints.” The labour of Patrick and his associates was not confined to Ireland only, but were largely the cause of the truth of Christianity reaching other lands. See for example my Celtic Church History!

Saint Patrick knew the Sacred Scriptures. Actually, it is the only book he quoted from! The Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans seems to have been his favourite: he quoted from it at least 30 times in his writings!

Saint Patrick experienced what St Paul states in the letter to the Romans: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” and “the wages of sin is death.” He writes: “I lived in death and unbelief.” But the good news, and the hope that Saint Patrick clung to, is that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, came to this earth as a man and died on the cross in order to pay the wages of our sin. “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Saint Paul said. Saint Patrick stated it as follows: “He has poured forth upon us abundantly the Holy Spirit, the gift and pledge of immortality, who makes those who believe and obey sons of God and joint heirs with Christ.”

Saint Patrick – absolutely sure of his own unworthiness, moreover absolutely sure of God’s forgiveness in Christ. He was man with only one devotion: Christ. He doesn’t mention the rosary, he doesn’t invoke Mary, he doesn’t speak about a purgatory. No traces either of supernatural miracles or snakes in Saint Patrick’s writings… His creed was “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me!” Can you say that as well? What does Jesus Christ mean for you? Has the Saviour of Saint Patrick won your heart? Have you like him been converted to God? Have you, like him, had your unbelieving eyes opened? Remember the words of Scripture: “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.” And again: “However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”