St. Patriachus, Enlightener of Eire
Saint Patrick, the Apostle of the Irish, came to Ireland where he found so much reknown, by force. He was seized from his native Britain by Irish marauders when he was sixteen years old. He was the son of a deacon and a grandson of a priest, it was not until his captivity that he sought out the Lord with his whole heart. In his Confession (found here and here) the testament of his belief and salvation, that he wrote towards the end of his life, he says,
“After I came to Ireland – every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed – the love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened.My spirit was so moved that in a single day, that I would sometimes say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many at night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountain; and I would rise for prayer before daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no harm.”
After six years of slavery in Ireland, he was guided by God to make his escape, and found refuge in the monastic life at Auxerre in Gaul, under the guidance of the holy Bishop Germanus.
Many years later he was ordained bishop and sent to Ireland once again, around 432 AD because of his familiarity with the land, people and language, feeling strongly he could use his past experience as a venue to convert the pagan Gaels to Catholic Irish.
His arduous labours bore so much fruit that within seven years, three bishops were sent from Gaul to help him shepherd his flock, “my brethren and sons whom I have baptized in the Lord – so many thousands of people,” he says in his Confession. His apostolic work was not accomplished without much “weariness and painfulness,” long journeys through difficult country, and many perils; he says his very life was in danger twelve times. When he came to Ireland as its enlightener, it was a pagan country; when he ended his earthly life some thirty years later, about 461, the Faith of Christ was established in every corner and so the saint drove the “snakes” out of Ireland.
It is a fast day today, so have some Spanakorizo with dill, today in his honour. Save the corned beef for after Pascha.
Kontakion (Hymn) in the Fourth Tone
The Master revealed thee as a skillful fisher of men; and casting forth nets of Gospel preaching, thou drewest up the heathen to piety.
Those who were the children of idolatrous darkness thou didst render sons of day throughholy Baptism. O Patrick, intercede for us who honour thy memory