It’s March 17th, folks. You know what that means, right? In classrooms everywhere leprechauns played pranks on little kids; in homes everywhere moms slaved over delicious meals of corned beef; and in towns everywhere people celebrated with parades, parties, and pinching…
But do you know the real story behind this festive day? Do you know the story of the man known to all as Saint Patrick?
I did a little bit of research to share with my students. Disclaimer: I do mean a little bit of research! But I found such interesting stories that I would love to read more!
Patrick was born in Roman Britain in the year 387. He grew up surrounded by the Christian Faith, but he hadn’t accepted the faith for himself.
At the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates and kept as a slave in Ireland. He worked for his master as a shepherd. And while living as a slave in Ireland, he learned the culture and the language…. As well as opened his heart and mind to God. He spent countless hours praying and meditating and strengthening his faith.
After 6 years as a slave, Patrick heard a voice telling him he would soon be going home. That same voice spoke to him soon after and told him his ship was ready. Patrick did not hesitate. He ran from his master and set sail back to Britain.
Once back in his home country, he devoted his life to God. He studied to become a cleric and even served in a monastery. Then he had another divine message. After being away from Ireland for more than two decades, he was called to return.
As Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with Jesus and his followers. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked Jesus’ followers, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard them, he said, “It is not the healthy people who need a doctor, but the sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I want kindness more than I want animal sacrifices.’ I did not come to invite good people but to invite sinners.” (Matthew 9:10-13 NCV)
Just as Jesus spent his ministry bringing sinners to The Lord, Patrick spent his later years bringing the pagans of Ireland to Christ. The were no leprechauns or pots of gold… But there were shamrocks! Patrick used these little wild sprigs found all over the Emerald Isle as a teaching tool to share the Holy Trinity with the people. And where he went, churches were built. And where he went, people were saved.
So when others are grabbing bottles of Guinness, singing loud folk songs, or pinching people for not wearing green, you can remember and celebrate the man who converted an entire nation to follow Christ.