Photo: Thoom /

What do you know about St. Patrick? That his favourite colour was green? That he banished all the snakes in Ireland? That he was Catholic?

So little is known fact about St. Patrick because he lived sometime between 389 and 461 CE, and even these dates have a question mark beside them. Much of what comes to us about this holy man is myth.

He is said to have been “the son of a Roman military officer stationed in Britain, [but] Patrick was more interested in a career than in religion. At the age of sixteen, however, he was captured by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland. For six years he worked as a shepherd, suffering from cold and hunger as well as his loss of freedom. He finally turned to God, his only hope, as he looked for a way to return to Britain. Eventually he escaped aboard a German vessel, paying his way by taking care of a pack of stolen dogs the crew planned to sell. Back home, Patrick became a priest. When the Church discussed sending missionaries to Ireland, Patrick remembered his days of slavery and struggled to decide whether or not to volunteer. Finally, when the first bishop of Ireland died, Patrick asked to go. He had a dream in which voices of Irish people called to him, ‘We beg you come and walk with us again (All the Saints of the Roman Calendar and More by Sister Mary Kathleen Glavich, S.N.D. and other Sisters of Notre Dame, Chardon).’”

There once was a practice of naming children after the saints; the children would have an immediate patron to guard and protect them. My name is Patricia and my father’s name was Patrick. The name Patrick, from the Latin patricius, means “noble one.” It is a lot to live up to. It was once a popular name; in my grade 9 class there were four girls with the name Patricia, so to differentiate us, we each had a derivative of Pat. 

St. Patrick is said to have “used a shamrock to teach that there is only one God, but three divine persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. People remembered this mystery of faith whenever they saw a shamrock with its three leaves (All the Saints of the Roman Calendar and More).”

St. Patrick’s Breastplate is a favourite prayer of many. Let us pray:

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation. 

Pat Carter, CSJ is a disciple, a teacher and an advocate for the poor. She has been a Sister of St. Joseph for more than half of her life and loves to use words to inspire faith and laughter. She is a cantor at her parish of St. Jerome’s in Sault Ste. Marie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *