Saint Patrick’s Benediction
March 16, 2006
According to ancient folklore, Saint Patrick lit the first paschal fire on the Hill of Slane in defiance of the druids and the pagan kings of Tara. When they saw the flames, the followers of Patrick were arrested, however Ireland’s future patron saint spoke so eloquently to King Laoghaire that the pagan ruler pardoned him and granted him the freedom to preach across the Erin Isle. The rest is history, as they say, and today, more than 1500 years later, we celebrate Saint Patrick, as always, on March 17th.
The future “Apostle of Ireland” was born as Maewyn Succat in Scotland between 387 and 390. At about the age of 16, he was kidnapped from his village on the British mainland and transported to Ireland as a slave. While shepherding in the mountains he spent his time in prayer until he had a dream commanding him to return to Britain. After escaping bondage, he studied abroad in continental monasteries, becoming a Priest and later a Bishop. Pope Saint Celestine sent him to evangelize England, and then Ireland. During his 33 year mission he effectively converted all of Ireland turning it into the “Land of Saints”. During the Dark Ages, the Irish monasteries became the great repositories of Christian learning in all of Europe, all a consequence of Patrick’s ministry. Patrick died 461-464 at Saul, County Down, Ireland.
“I came to the Irish people to preach the Gospel and endure the taunts of unbelievers, putting up with reproaches about my earthly pilgrimage, suffering many persecutions, even bondage, and losing my birthright of freedom for the benefit of others.
“If I am worthy, I am ready also to give up my life, without hesitation and most willingly, for Christ’s name. I want to spend myself for that country, even in death, if the Lord should grant me this favor.
“It is among that people that I want to wait for the promise made by him, who assuredly never tells a lie. He makes this promise in the Gospel: ‘They shall come from the east and west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ This is our faith: believers are to come from the whole world.” ~~from “The Confession of Saint Patrick”
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.