St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, might just be the “Patron Saint” of some church planters. In his writings he points out some of his many shortcomings and his great zeal to reach the “unchurched” in Ireland, two of the things that parallel my journey. In his Letter to Coroticus, written because soldiers had kidnapped Irish Christians that he had just converted and he was furious. Although Patrick was a gentle and humble man of faith he reached the people of Erin in spite of his stature in life.
His limited education, in Law and Theology was no stumbling block to the “community” he was reaching. The reason, I believe was he was lead by and open to the Holy Spirit, and as Acts 8:12 puts it “But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”
During Patrick’s captivity in the Irish wilderness he comes to know the God he missed as a child, although he was born into a Christian family (his father Calpurnius was a deacon; his grandfather Potitus a priest) yet he “did not know God.” Galatians 4:8 “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.” It is ironic that Patrick, as a slave found the God he missed as a free child and he takes on the same concern for the Irish that Paul had for the Galatians.
Although Patrick regrets his educational achievements, his crystal clear understanding of the Doctrine of the Trinity, the Love of Christ for the lost and the redemption found only in Jesus, was the start of Christianity breaking out on the Island of Éireann and spreading throughout the world.
Though Patrick wasn’t the first missionary to Ireland, an unsuccessful Palladius preceded him. He was the first who was successful. And he took Christianity to people outside the Roman Empire. In their own community and culture.
Patrick also has a record of speaking out against slavery and was a defender of women and children. In his Confessio he writes of a woman who becomes a leader among Christian women and goes on to express grief that women held in slavery had the worst lot of all. In his regard for women and for the sanctity of life Patrick was a Planter ahead of his times.
- Kidnapped by pirates at age 16
- Embarrassed at lack of education
- Finds God while herding pigs(?)
- Escapes, guided by a voice
- Recalled to Ireland by dream
- A childhood confession returns to haunt him
- Boasts of bringing religion to the Irish
- Baptises a beautiful Irish princess
- And this is my confession before I die.”