There is usually a germ of truth behind every legend. As with St. Valentine and St. Nicolas, the mythology we celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day was built upon the life and history of a real person.
As the day of parades, shamrocks, and green beer approaches, I’m sharing this fascinating article by Stephen Nichols of Ligonier Ministries:
Who Was Saint Patrick and Should Christians Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
When it comes to Saint Patrick, the true story is even more exciting than the legend and the myth. The facts are far better than the fable. This day that belongs to St. Patrick has become about leprechauns, shamrocks, pots of gold, and green—green everywhere. Famously, the City of Chicago dumps forty pounds of its top-secret dye into the river. A green racing stripe courses through the city. But long before there was the St. Patrick of myth, there was the Patrick of history. Who was Patrick?
Patrick was born in 385 in Roman Britannia in the modern-day town of Dumbarton, Scotland. Patrick opens his autobiographical St. Patrick’s Confession with these opening lines:
“My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers…”
Patrick skips over much of his first sixteen years. But who can blame him? At sixteen and being captured by barbarian Irish pirates is a pretty exciting place to begin a story. When the pirates landed on the Irish coast, they took Patrick about 200 miles inland where he was a shepherd and farm laborer. Six years passed and Patrick had either a vivid dream or a vision in which he was shown an escape route. Emboldened, Patrick made his break from his captors, traveling back over the 200 miles to the shoreline. As he approached the docks, a British ship stood waiting. The sails unfurled and Patrick was home. But he didn’t stay long… READ MORE