St. Patrick

St. Patrick lived many years ago. He is the Patron Saint of Ireland and we celebrate his life on the 17 March every year. We do this because he followed God in a way that caused a lot of other people to benefit from it.

Patrick preached God's word to the people of Ireland. He used a shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. He soon converted the king and his six children, then 12,000 other people. In his time, he faced a lot of doubt about his preaching, but God gave him the strength to carry on. He had messages from God in his dreams, giving him guidance on what to do next. Patrick also began to work miracles. The dead were raised, the sick were healed, the lame were cured. Patrick claimed a miraculous flow of water in a lot of wells, where to this day they are named after him.

Towards the end of his life he wrote a book called "The Confessions". This showed Patrick's great closeness to God. He wrote in one part "I Patrick, the sinner, am the most ignorant and the least of the faithful... I was like a stone lying in mud; and He that is the mighty one lifted me up". He confesses all his sins with great humility showing he is truly sorry and he is punishing himself. Patrick also praises the mercy of God. He writes about how he wants to go back to his own country and see his friends, but he won't, as he will not leave his people.

Here are extracts from Patrick's confessions that show his trust in God:

"I give unceasing thanks to my God, who kept me faithful in the day of my testing. Today, I can offer Him sacrifice with confidence, giving myself as a living victim to Christ, my Lord, who kept me safe through all my trails."

"God showed me how to have faith in Him forever, as one who is never to be doubted. He answered my prayer in such a way that, ignorant I am, I might be bold enough to take up so holy and wonderful a task, and imitate in some way those whom the Lord had so long ago foretold as heralds of his Gospel."

"You did it so that, whatever happened to me, I might accept good and evil equally, always giving thanks to God."

These three extracts show how much Patrick loved God. He trusted him and showed in the things he said just how important God really is. He also said that he lived in constant danger and expected martyrdom, but feared nothing because he put himself into the hands of God. At one point in his life, he baptized a son of a king without the dad's permission and got put in jail. But, because God was looking after him, he was released within fourteen days.

I think the whole relationship with God began when he was very young. He was born in Britain, but when he was fourteen, he was taken to Ireland and sold as a slave. I think this was fate. He was to be a shepherd. In Patrick's captivity he prayed to God. He said this protected him from dangers and harsh weather.

In Patrick' s six years of captivity, his love grew for God and he learnt how to speak the native language (this would come in useful when he started to preach). Patrick had a dream in which God gave him a message to flee 200 miles away to the coast, so he did, because he had great trust in God. He eventually got on a boat, where he started preaching about God. When he got to Britain he was reunited with his family. Then Patrick had another message from God in a dream. He heard the Irish begging him as the holy youth to go back to them. Patrick wanted to, but he wasn't ready yet, so he prepared for the priesthood.

He studied at Lerins, an island near Cannes in France. He was guided by St. Germanus to teach God's word. The pope, St. Celestine wanted to bring the gospel to Ireland so he told St. Patrick to go to Ireland, and he was ordained a bishop. Patrick first landed where he had been a slave, in the north of Ireland. A friend of Patrick's, Dichu, donated a barn, which later became a church and a monastery. The High King allowed Patrick to preach Christianity throughout Ireland which, I think, was another of God's miracles. At the mountain of Tara, the tradition started with Patrick using the shamrock to explain the Trinity.

God protected Patrick, as there were many chieftains and Druids who tried to harm him. One time, Patrick was almost killed by a spear. Very soon most of Ireland was converted to the Catholic religion. Patrick chose Armagh to build his church on; today it is a cathedral. God made all these things possible. Patrick faced a lot of opposition in his work, he was captured and chained twelve times and once sentenced to death. But, by the power of God, he was able to overcome, and the message of Christianity spread. Patrick gave and gave until he had no more to give, but he was happy to see himself poor with Jesus Christ. He knew that poverty and suffering and prayer would bring souls to God.

Ashleigh Quinn, Year 9
St. Michael's Convent School,
Barnet, North London.