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St. Patrick – Slave and Missionary

spring Mar 13, 2023

Wait! Before you set out to invest in a new green shirt and drink green beer, check out the details of St. Patrick and his legacy of sharing the Gospel in the country that stole him from his family.

St. Patrick’s Day is March 17th. Did you know that St. Patrick (formerly known as Maewyn Succat) was taken to Ireland as a teenage slave? Did you also know that the Druids (sorcerers, wizards, or magicians) who purchased Patrick had a reputation for tragic and brutal murders of Christians? However, in a turn of events, Patrick is credited with spreading Christianity in Ireland.

This is his story...  

Patrick was born in Britain in 387 A.D., during the 4th century, in a small village on the English coast known as Bannavein. At the age of 16, his family was attacked by Irish pirates and Patrick was sold as a slave to Druid Miliuc Maccu Boin in Slemish, Northern Ireland.

As a slave, Patrick’s job became herdsman/shepherd, where he tended to flocks of sheep day and night, in all weather conditions, on Slemish Mountain. Northern Ireland is known for having some of the windiest areas in country. Temperatures in this area have been known to dip as low as 5 degrees and do not usually get any warmer than 67 degrees Fahrenheit. The area also averages about 44 inches of rain annually.

Patrick was raised in a Christian home, but he had not accepted Christ as his personal Lord and Savior until his Irish captivity. Patrick’s father was a church deacon, a tax collector, and a civil magistrate. In his memoirs, Patrick wrote, “the Lord opened my senses to my unbelief, 'so that, though late in the day, I might remember my many sins; and accordingly ‘I might turn to the Lord my God with all my heart.” He was a slave for six years and earned the name “Holy Boy” for his constant devotion to God and prayers throughout the day.

At the age of 22, Patrick had a dream that a ship was waiting for him to take him home. He mustered up the courage and faith to flee from his slavers. To his surprise, once he reached the ship he was not greeted with a welcoming message, and he almost left. Thankfully, he heard others on the boat encouraging him to board, so he did.

The journey by sea and land was long and food was scarce. Although the captain, crew, and others on the ship were not Christian, they knew of Patrick’s faith. Knowing his reputation for having a relationship with God, the Captain turned to Patrick and asked him to petition God for food. Patrick did as he was asked, and there was soon a herd of pigs available for the taking. This provided food for several days and an opportunity for all to thank God for what He had done. In total, the return journey from the Slavish Mountain to his parent’s home took roughly two years.

Once arriving home, Patrick studied to become a pastor and much of his time was spent in Auxerre, France. He was ordained as a deacon in 418 A.D. and later ordained as a Bishop in 432 A.D. Although Patrick’s family wanted him to stay nearby, he received a letter from the men he worked with in Ireland asking him to return, saying; “Holy broth of a boy we beg you, come back and walk once more among us.” In 432 A.D., Patrick returned to Ireland against his family’s wishes.

Upon his arrival back in Ireland, Patrick was not met with open arms. His first hostile encounter back on Irish land caused the ship to re-route to another location. His second encounter was not much better as the chieftain named Dichu planned to slay Patrick and his associates as robbers or pirates. However, Patrick was able to communicate with him in his native tongue and share the gospel. Dichu and his household became Christian. This was Patrick’s first conversion as an Irish missionary. Patrick continued his ministry for nearly 30 years. You can read more about his life in his book, Confessio.

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