Who was St Patrick?

May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless y May the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you. 
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

Happy St Patrick’s Day everyone.

Today is the day we celebrate the feast day of St Patrick the patron saint of Ireland, it is celebrated on March 17th and has been for thousands of years.. It is the day that he is believed to have died on 460AD.

We don’t know very much about St Patrick but we do have lots of tales about him.

We do know that he was born Maewyn Succat to high ranking Roman parents in Britain around 387. When he was about 16 years old he was kidnapped by Irish marauders who attacked his families estate. He was taken to Ireland. Where he was held for six years. He became a slave and looked after his masters sheep, he spent long days alone. It was during this lonely time he heard the voice of God and became a Christian. We know this from his writing. He wrote that God spoke to him in a dream and told him to leave Ireland which he did, by walking about 200 miles before he found a ship to take him back to Britain. When he arrived in Britain he began to learn about the Christian faith he learnt under a bishop named, St. Germain (Germanus).

He was ordained and became a priest, it is said that he spent eighteen years in Britain and even though he had left Ireland he was still disturbed by the memories of Ireland, although he found that he could talk through those times with his Bishop. Whilst the Bishop commended Patrick to the Pope and it was then that Patrick asked to go back to Ireland, but the Pope said no. Instead another priest called Palladius was sent, it was only after he died that Patrick was then sent to Ireland. Before he went to Ireland he travelled to Rome and was made a Bishop by Pope Celestine in 432 AD. This is when he was given the name ‘Patritius’ which comes from two latin words ‘pater civium’ which means ‘the father of his people’.

So, Patrick travelled to Ireland to convert the Irish pagans to Chrisitanity. Even though he was able to talk to them in their own language, Patrick didn’t have an easy time. It is said that he was captured by druids but managed to get free. A story is told of a druid who tried to kill Patrick with a sword but his arm got stuck in the upright position so he couldn’t bring it down on Patrick.

But after a while he became more accepted by the local kings. He spent about 28 years travelling across Ireland spreading Christianity – he did such a good job that he converted nearly the whole of Ireland. As Patrick had got to know the Irish ritual and symbols he combined them into his teachings.

This was how the celtic cross was created. Patrick used the sun from an Irish symbol and combined it with the Christian cross.

There are many legends surrounding St Patrick. He is thought to be responsible for driving the snakes out of Ireland. It is said that he banished them forever by driving them into the sea with a wooden staff. Another version is that they resisted and he tricked them into a box and threw it into the sea.

St Patrick is also thought to have taught the Christian trinity by using the shamrock meaning ‘trefoil’ (three leafed). It was considered a sacred plant by the druids, so again he used something local to teach Christianity.

St Patrick wrote down his life history in the ‘confessio’ the confession. This also included his spiritual writings.

He died on 17th March 461AD aged 76 and is thought to be buried in Downpatrick, Country Down.

Traditions today include:

The shamrock is the national symbol of Ireland and is worn on St Patrick’s day.

People celebrating St Patrick’s day wear green and it is a tradition to pinch anyone who is not wearing green.

The traditional food for St Patrick’s day is to eat corned beef and cabbage.

There are many crafts for St Patrick’s Day.

Bible Story Printables  has lots of good ideas.

Ministry to children also has some really good ideas.

even green popcorn… 
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About Michelle Bailey

Reverend Michelle Bailey is the Rural Officer for the Bishop of Brecon and Swansea  She previously worked in Children's Ministry and was ordained in the Church of England. Her blog includes ideas on presenting concepts of faith to young children to the age of eleven and furthering faith development in an educational context. Michelle currently lives in Wales and is also developing a rural ministry blog.
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