Saint Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland

A circle of demons surrounded the island of Ireland in an attempt to prevent Saint Patrick from entering there. However, with the Sign of the Cross, this man of God drove them out and went on to evangelize that country.

Newsroom(05/09/2021 15:30 Gaudium Press) Saint Patrick was born in the year 377 in the village of a Roman colony in Scotland, where his father was a councilor. Belonging to an aristocratic family linked to the Romans, he was given a Catholic education in the Latin language.

When he was 16 years old, barbarians kidnapped him and took him to Hibernia – present-day Ireland – where he was sold as a slave and became a shepherd; in the solitude of the green meadows, where he wept for his sins, he began a life of intense prayer.

Dr. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira comments: “Let us imagine the beautiful scene: Saint Patrick, small but already with the physiognomy of a Saint, a poor and humble shepherd boy, praying on the splendidly green grass of Ireland, and the animals making a circle around him, to protect him or to contemplate him.

“Similar scenes were common in the writing of the lives of the Saints in the Middle Ages, constituting Fioretti – little flowers – serving as illuminations, like cathedral stained glass windows, etc. History and fantasy in them come together for the realization of a magnificent aspect of the power of prayer, as well as of candour, of innocence, when they are strengthened by charisms coming from God.” [1]

His parents were beheaded by barbarians

After six years, the young Patrick heard the voice of an Angel directing him to flee the island. He managed to board a ship, most likely a pirate ship, which nearly sank and came to anchor in an uninhabited land.

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After walking for 27 days, afflicted by hunger, the captain of the ship said to St. Patrick:
“You are a Christian; pray that your God will come to our aid.”
Convert and God will save you,” Saint Patrick responded.

As the crew bowed their heads as a sign of assent, a great number of wild boars appeared nearby and served as food for them. All of them converted to the Catholic faith and, taking a good deal of meat with them, they resumed their journey and reached Scotland.

St. Patrick found his parents and traveled with them to Armorica in Northwestern France. Soon after their arrival, the barbarians in that land attacked and beheaded his parents, and then sold young Patrick into slavery.

A Catholic family bought him and set him free. Walking through various regions of central-western France, he arrived at the Monastery of Marmoutier, on the banks of the Loire at the outskirts of Tours. Here, he was admitted as a religious man and was noted for his piety.

He had always felt that his vocation was to convert Ireland, so he returned there to evangelize it. Providence permitted tremendous difficulties to try the young Saint…to the extent that the inhabitants viewed him as an enemy and he was forced to depart.

He returned to Gaul and stayed for some years in the famous monastery of Lérins, located near what is now the Côte d’Azur. He then went to Auxèrre in central-eastern France, where the prelate, Saint Germano, sent him to Rome. There Pope Saint Sixtus III consecrated him as a bishop and ordered him to go and evangelize Ireland.

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He drove out the demons that surrounded Ireland

When he arrived in that country in 433, the demons made a circle around the whole island to block his way. Saint Patrick raised his right hand and made the Sign of the Cross, driving out all the evil spirits and continuing on his way.

He destroyed the idol of the sun – an idol to which children were sacrificed – as they had been sacrificed to Moloch in the days of old. Then, with his staff, he drove out all the snakes from the island.

With admirable courage he went to the General Assembly of the idolatrous warrior chiefs of Hibernia, preaching Our Lord Jesus Christ. The principal monarch’s son threatened him with death, but several chiefs converted and granted him land; on this land he built monasteries and convents that later sheltered young men and women of noble heritage.

Conversions of royal families

Dr. Plinio continues: “Imagine how beautiful it would be, in the midst of the gentle nature of Ireland: a general assembly of warriors to deliberate about the things of the nation.

“The warriors were the nobles who attended these assemblies, clothed in their weapons. And when there were difficulties in voting, they would fight among themselves using those weapons. It was a regime of barbarism.

“The assemblies were also attended by the college of the Druids – pagan priests from Gaul and Ireland – who at that time belonged to the same race.

“There Saint Patrick came forward, he who attacked the religious and political centre of the nation head-on. Before all his enemies gathered together, he preached the Faith. What fearlessness! No half measures, no warm clothes, no retreats; he was a Saint and had the power of the Saints.

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“From that moment on, wonders followed quickly. There were conversions of entire royal families.

“Naturally, ‘royal families‘ means federations of tribes. We cannot think, for instance, of princesses like the daughters of Louis XV painted by Nattier, but of our Paraguaçu – Tupinambá Indian, the wife of Diogo Álvares Correia (Caramuru). The ‘royal princesses’ of that time were blond Paraguaçus, but authentic Paraguaçus.

“Finally, we must imagine the savagery of these hordes and Saint Patrick telling them all the truths. He arouses admiration; the warriors begin to become thoughtful, then contrite, and the women begin to change their attitudes. Whole royal families are baptized, followed by their respective tribes. What a beautiful scene!”

After Christianizing Ireland, St Patrick gave his beautiful soul to God in 461 in County Down, Northern Ireland; he was 83 years old. He drove the snakes out of Ireland; for this reason, in many images, he is depicted as crushing snakes with a staff.

He became a Patron Saint of the country, along with St. Columba (521-597) and St. Bridget of Kildare (453 – 524).

By Paulo Francisco Martos

[1] CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, Plinio. Saint Patrick. In revista Dr. Plinio. São Paulo. Year XIII, n. 144 (March 2010), p. 11.

Compiled by Sandra Chisholm

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