Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Happy Saint Patrick's Day to all of you! Saint Patrick (about 389-461) is the patron saint of Ireland. He was known as the Apostle to the Irish. He is credited with converting the Irish people to Christianity. Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated by Irish Catholics throughout the world on March 17. Patrick was born in Britain. His father was Christian and a wealthy alderman. Patrick was captured by pirates when he was 16 and sold as a slave in Ireland where he served as a shepherd. He studied religion while in captivity and escaped after six years there. He returned to his home in Britain but was driven by the thought of converting the Irish to Christianity. He studied in a monastery on an island off the coast of France in an effort to prepare for his self-imposed mission. He also studied religion under a French bishop. His superiors were not supportive of sending him to Ireland as a missionary until the first Irish missionary died. Then the Pope sent Patrick to Ireland. Patrick chose to start his work in northern and western Ireland where Christianity had not been previous taught. He won the trust of several tribal leaders and developed friendships with them and was converting their people to Christianity. Patrick is credited with baptizing more than 120,000 people and starting more than 300 churches. Clergymen were brought from England and Frances to work in his new churches. Patrick's mission to Ireland lasted the rest of his life. Facts and information for this blog post are from an article by William J. Courtenay, World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 15, p 197.