So who was the Patrick who became known as the patron saint of Ireland? Growing up I knew little, - he had been brought to Ireland as a slave, escaped and then returned as a missionary. There was something about him explaining the Trinity using a shamrock leaf and of course he was credited with banishing the snakes!
More recently I have read the two surviving documents that he wrote, The Confession of Patrick and his Letter to Corotocus.
His Confession is a lengthy document. Detailing his life from a young man in Britain, a six year period of captivity in Ireland, his escape and then return to Ireland as a Christian missionary. He gives details such as names of relations,about his travels and his work, and also great insight into what he believed and was passionate about.
It is very evident that he had a good knowledge of the Bible and what it says about the Lord Jesus Christ and salvation. He was thankful for the mercy and grace of God as the following quotation shows, ‘ like a stone lying in deep mire and he that is mighty came in his mercy, raised me up and indeed lifted me high up and placed me on top of the wall…’
He had a burden to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the Irish who he says, ‘cherished idols and unclean things’. It wasn’t an easy vocation as he experienced various hardships and threats. He writes, ‘daily I expect to be murdered or betrayed or reduced to slavery’. He was also concerned about his reputation and mentions that he returned small unasked for gifts, so as to give ‘no occasion for defamation.’
He saw himself as a ‘fisher of men’ and reports that he baptized thousands and ordained clergy. Christianity had arrived, taken root and the same gospel is still proclaimed and embraced by many today.
And what is the good news that Patrick was so passionate about –
‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ John chapter 3 verse 16
(Source used, www.ancienttexts.com)
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Newry Baptist Church
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