St. Patrick, our school’s Patron Saint
His Feast Day is March 17
(St. Patrick is also the Patron Saint of Ireland)
What is a Patron Saint?
From the earliest days of the Church, groups of the faithful (families, parishes, regions,
countries) have chosen a particularly holy person who has passed on to intercede for them
with God . Seeking the intercession of a patron saint does not mean that one cannot
approach God directly in prayer; rather, it's like asking a friend to pray for you to God, while
you also pray—except, in this case, the friend is already in Heaven, and can pray to God for
us without ceasing. (http://catholicism.about.com/)
Much of St. Patrick’s life is surrounded by myth and legend so only some things are known
with any certainty. Much of what is known about St. Patrick comes from his book Confessio
( The Confession) which he wrote as a defense of the Christian faith addressed to those in
Ireland who were opposed to it.
St. Patrick was born around 387 AD (anno domini, The Year of Our Lord) and his place of
birth is not known for sure. His education appears not to have been a priority. At the age of
16 he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland where he was forced to worked as a
shepherd. During his 6 years as a slave, Patrick became deeply devoted to Christianity
through constant prayer. He came to view his slavery as God’s test of his faith.
St. Patrick was able to escape and eventually make his way to Auxerre, France where he
studied under St. Germain. St. Patrick had a dream which he believed was God’s message
for him to go to Ireland and preach to them the Good News of Jesus Christ. Ireland was still
almost entirely non Christian at this time. He was ordained Bishop of Ireland by Pope
Celestine I around 431 AD and returned to Ireland. He initially met with tremendous
resistance from the inhabitants of Ireland, but never gave up trying to win followers for Jesus
St. Patrick used an Irish plant, the shamrock, to try to explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity
to those he was trying to convert. He explained that the shamrock, although it has three
leaves, is still connected to one stem; just as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three
persons but still one God.
In his book Confessio he states, “I blush and fear exceedingly to reveal my lack of
education”. This may explain why over the three decades he spent in Ireland he worked
hard to raise the standards of scholarship and encouraged the study of latin.
Thanks to the efforts of St. Patrick, by the time he died in 461 AD, almost all of Ireland had
St. Patrick, through his actions has modelled for us some very important qualities. He was
humble. This is evident in his writing. He was courageous, especially in boldly preaching
the Good News to people who were very much against it. He realized the importance of
education and worked to improve it. St. Patrick had great faith in God and worked at his
relationship with God through constant prayer. Following his example can help to put us on
the right path to God.
St. Patrick, Patron Saint of our school,
pray for us!