Today is St. Patrick’s day, a day on which everyone is Irish even if Patrick wasn’t. Patrick was actually a Briton who was kidnapped as a teen and sold as a slave in Ireland. He spent 6 years as a slave before he escaped. Patrick wasn’t a Christian when he was kidnapped, but he converted during his captivity and became very devout. After he escaped, he returned to England, became a priest, and went back to fulfill the call God put in his heart to preach to the pagans in Ireland.
And that’s what’s amazing to me. After six or seven years, he returns to his family (this is miraculous in and of himself), but then he has a dream. He writes,
“And after a few years I was again in Britain with my parents [kinsfolk], and they welcomed me as a son, and asked me, in faith, that after the great tribulations I had endured I should not go anywhere else away from them. And, of course, there, in a vision of the night, I saw a man whose name was Victoricus coming as if from Ireland with innumerable letters, and he gave me one of them, and I read the beginning of the letter: The Voice of the Irish’; and as I was reading the beginning of the letter I seemed at that moment to hear the voice of those who were beside the forest of Foclut which is near the western sea, and they were crying as if with one voice: We beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk again among us.’ And I was stung intensely in my heart so that I could read no more, and thus I awoke. Thanks be to God, because after so many years the Lord bestowed on them according to their cry.”
So, he returned to the people who kidnapped and enslaved him, to preach the good news of Jesus Christ, that they could be free from their sins. There are all sorts of legends surrounding St. Patrick, from snake wrangler to pagan dueler, almost all of them most likely myth. But the real miracle is that God took a sinful man and gave him a heart that loved his kidnappers and slave masters enough to leave his family and his home to bring them the gospel.
In honor of St. Patrick, the Irish people, and most importantly God’s great mercy and grace, my favorite rendition of my favorite hymn. It is purely coincidental that the hymn is Irish and Phil Keaggy is of Irish decent.
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For more information on St. Patrick:
Biography.com (autoplay video at that link.)
“The Lorica of St. Patrick” (a prayer of protection)