As many celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, few realize that he was a real person and he was a ‘born again’ Christian missionary. He was neither an official “saint” nor was he actually Catholic as most have been led to believe.
As a matter of fact it might be more correct to say that St Patrick was a “Baptist”; not the kind we think of today, but he wasn’t Protestant (that came much later during the reformation) and he wasn’t Catholic.
Patrick was born in the year 373 in a town on the River Clyde in Roman Britain, now a part of Scotland. When he was sixteen years old, Patrick was captured by a band of pirates who sold him to a chieftain in what is now in Northern Ireland. For six years he tended flocks. It was during the time of his captivity that he turned from his careless ways and came to a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus.
After six years, he escaped and after a difficult journey on land and sea returned to his people in Scotland. He received a clear and personal call from the Lord to preach the Gospel and return to the land of his former captivity. Being about 30 years old he set out for Ireland.
He arrived in or about the year 405. The work of Patrick and his associates in Ireland was extremely difficult. He came up against the old pagan religion of the Druids. The people believed in the Druids as pagan priests who mediated for them in the things of the spirit.
Over the course of 60 years, Patrick went the length and breadth of Ireland preaching the Gospel, ordaining pastors and establishing churches. It is reckoned that at the end of his days there were 365 churches across the island.
For more than six hundred years, Irish missionaries carried the Gospel with the same truthfulness as Patrick’s to Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy and beyond. Darkness covered Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries. The Dark Ages had begun and the Roman Church, having gained rulership through intrigue and persecution, now held most of Europe in her iron grip. Even so, in those dark centuries, the Irish missionaries continued to spread the true Gospel, seed which for centuries to come would bear much good fruit all across Europe.
So as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, an interesting note is that he was not from Ireland (he was born in Britain, modern Scotland) and there is no evidence he was Catholic. His beliefs and practices are more accurately described as Baptistic.