Friars Corner: Happy Feast of St Patrick to all the Irish

Myth and legend shroud much of the history of St. Patrick, Bishop and Patron of Ireland. From his short autobiography, Confession and the Letter we know he was born in 385 of a Christian family at Bannavem Taberniae. His father was a magistrate of the town on the Western shores of Britain (Wales, Britain or Scotland). Patrick describes a wayward youth. Raiders kidnapped him when he was 16 and sold him into slavery in Ireland, where for six years he was a shepherd. A vision directed him to escape and travel some 200 miles to a ship bound for France. He studied for the priesthood in Wales and Auxere, France, where he was ordained a priest and spent 15 years in ministry.

When Patrick was 40, St. Germain ordained him a bishop and sent him to evangelize Ireland. Patrick went to local tribal leaders for permission to teach about Jesus Christ and build churches. He successfully adapted the Gospel to the Irish culture and ordained 3,000 priests and 370 bishops. With all this help, Ireland was converted without anyone being killed.

His reform of Confession is now called the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Sins were confessed privately to a priest giving Christ’s forgiveness. It also involved some spiritual direction to help the penitent live a better Christian life. That new form of confession eventually spread all over the world and is still used today.

It is believed that Patrick died peacefully and was buried at Down, now called Down-Patrick. So he is known for much more than shamrocks and "green beer."

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About Nancy Ward

Nancy HC Ward is a journalist, author, and speaker who blogs about Catholicism, her conversion, and Christian community at,
 7 websites and 7 magazines. She loves to share her faith story and help others share theirs through her Sharing Your Faith Stories seminars, also available on DVD. She contributed four chapters to The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion. She facilitates the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers and a critique group for the Catholic Writers Guild, where she serves as a board member.
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