Sunday March 17
What does it mean to follow Jesus into vision?
Brief Biography of St. Patrick (387 AD - 461 AD)
Patrick's family lived on a small estate near the village of Bannavem Taburni ae. This name cannot be placed on any current map of England or Wales. Although his father was a deacon, Patrick was not a believer: I did not, indeed, know the true God.
In his teens, Patrick was captured by a gang of Irish pirates and taken as a slave to Ireland. Patrick came to believe that this was a punishment for his lack of faith. He was put to work for six years herding sheep and pigs on Slemish mountain in County Antrim. While he was a shepherd, Patrick spent much of his time praying. After six years, St. Patrick attempted to escape, while he was a captive in Ireland. Patrick stowed away on a boat bound for Britain, and it landed not far from where his parents lived. Patrick decided to follow his vocation to become a priest, and after a dream he was inspired to return to Ireland.
Patrick spent several years studying before he felt ready to take up the life of a missionary. He eventually returned to Ireland, as the country's second bishop, and brought the message of Christ to many people who had never heard it. As a missionary Patrick baptized thousands of people. It was not an easy task. Patrick writes how his life was at risk, and how he was sometimes imprisoned by the local pagan chiefs. Poignantly, Patrick also writes of his longing to leave Ireland. How I would have loved to go to my country and my parents, and also to Gaul in order to visit the brethren and to see the face of the saints of my Lord! God knows it! that I much desired it; but I am bound by the Spirit. But he knew his duty, and remained in Ireland.
Patrick had problems not only with himself, and the local pagans, but suffered from some backbiting by fellow clergy who accused him of seeking to win personal status. The claim nearly broke his heart, but anyone who reads his Confessio will soon realize that Patrick was the last person to think that he deserved any glory for himself.
Adapted from http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/saints/patrick_1.shtml
Recommended Reading about St. Patrick:
St Patrick of Ireland, Philip Freeman
The Confession of Saint Patrick, Saint Patrick, Translator: John Skinner
Life of St. Patrick and His Place in History, J.B. Bury