“I am Patrick, yes a sinner and indeed untaught; yet I am established here in Ireland where I profess myself bishop. I am certain in my heart that ‘all that I am’, I have received from God. So I live among barbarous tribes, a stranger and exile for the love of God. He himself testifies that this is so. I never would have wanted these harsh words to spill from my mouth; I am not in the habit of speaking so sharply. Yet now I am driven by the zeal of God, Christ’s truth has aroused me. I speak out too for love of my neighbors who are my only sons; for them I gave up my home country, my parents and even pushing my own life to the brink of death. If I have any worth, it is to live my life for God so as to teach these peoples; even though some of them still look down on me.” ~ St. Patrick
Patrick, a Briton kidnapped by Irish pirates at age sixteen, was a slave in Ireland for six years around 400 A. D. During that time, he learned their language and culture and also learned to love the Irish themselves. God used his years as a slave to draw Patrick to a saving knowledge of his Creator. In approximately 432 A. D., he returned to Ireland with a “missionary team” after a vision calling him back. In twenty-eight years, he and his followers may have planted 700 churches and baptized tens of thousands.
Patrick was also influential in abolishing the slave trade in Ireland.
After his death, the Celtic church sent missionaries into Europe, reaching many other “barbarians” effectively and quickly. I highly recommend two books:
- How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe by Thomas Cahill
- The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach the West… AGAIN by George C. Hunter III
I recommend reading both books to get a full picture of the time period, the influence of the early Celtic Christians, and what we might learn from them today. (I wrote a review here.)
- The illustration is a detail taken from the Book of Kells, which was made by Celtic monks 400 years after Patrick. You can browse the entire book digitally at the Digital Collection of the Trinity College, Dublin.
- For more details about Patrick, I recommend this article on Persecution Blog.
- Check out two articles about Saint Patrick on Wikipedia and on the History Channel site.
- You might also be interested in some quotes from Saint Patrick at WikiQuote.