Saint Patrick was born in Roman Britain and was carried off as a slave to northern Ireland, where he tended his master's pigs. Whilst he worked, he spent all day praying and thus grew close to God and his faith. After six years as a slave, he escaped back to Britain and his family.
However, Patrick had become charmed by the Irish people and sensed that he should return to them as soon as he could. After a number of dreams asking him to return, he was convinced that God wanted him to establish the church in Ireland, so spent the next twenty-one years preparing himself for the task. He trained at two monasteries in France and prepared spiritually but also practically (he learnt to construct buildings) for his mission to Ireland.
Finally, in 432, Saint Patrick returned to Ireland as a bishop. He won the protection from the high kings directly by confronting the Druids, and then travelled across the island of Ireland converting thousands of people. Each time, Patrick made sure the new communities had church buildings and vessels to be certain that they could flourish. He also founded a number of monasteries which became centres of learning and started the training of native clergy.
Saint Patrick died in 461, but in twenty-nine years, he had completely transformed Ireland, replacing some very ancient paganism (which the Druids administered) and left it with a very vibrant Christian church.
Let us pray Saint Patrick's prayer...
“Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”
- Purchase Saint Patrick's prayer booklet, here.
The image shows a prayer card of Saint Patrick printed in the 1950s at the Shrine.