March 17, around 461 A.D., St. Patrick died.
As a teenager, the Roman Legions guarding his community in Britain had to be withdrawn to Rome from invading heathen hordes overrunning the borders. These tribes had been displaced by the Huns, who attacked westward after the Later Eastern Dynasty extended sections of the Great Wall of China along its Mongolian border around 220 A.D.
The displaced tribes of Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Franks, Anglos, Saxons, Alemanni, Thuringians, Rugians, Jutes, Picts, Burgundians, Lombards, Alans and Vandals migrated west across Central Asia into the Western Roman Empire.
After Roman Legions were withdrawn from Britain, raiders attacked and killed in Ireland. Patrick was captured and sold as a slave in Ireland, which was ruled by the Druids who practiced human sacrifice.
Thomas Cahill wrote in "How the Irish Saved Civilization" (Random House, 1995): "Novels, in their first encounters with these exposed, insane warriors, were shocked and frightened. … they were howling and, it seemed, possessed by demons, so outrageous was their strength … featuring all the terrors of hell itself. "
For six years, he wrote in his "Confession": "But after I came to Ireland – every day I had to tend to sheep, and many times to day I prayed – the love of God and His fear to be more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was moved in a single day I would like to have a hundred prayers, and almost always, when I was staying in the woods and on the mountains; and I used to get through to daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain. … There the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I would be at last remember my sins and be with all my heart to the Lord my God who …
Then Patrick had a dream, he wrote: "One night I heard in my sleep saying, 'It's going faster than you want to go to your own country.' And again … a voice saying to me : 'See, your ship is ready.' And it was not, but a distance of perhaps two hundred miles. … Then I took to flight. … I went into the strength of God who directed my way … until I came to that ship. "
Patrick eventually made his way back to Britain and was reunited with what was left of his family. Then, when he was about 40 years old, he had another dream calling back to Ireland as a missionary.
In his "Confession," Patrick wrote: "In the depth of the night, I saw a man named Victoricus coming out of Ireland, with innumerable letters, and he gave me one those near the western sea call out: 'Please, holy boy, come and walk among us again.' Their cry pierced my very heart, and I could read no more, and so I awoke. "
Patrick returned to Ireland, confronted the Druids, converted chieftains, and used the three-leaf clover to teach Trinity.
The druids tried to ambush and kill Patrick almost at dozen times: "I expect murder, fraud or captivity, but I fear none of these things because of the promises of Heaven. … The merciful God often freed me from slavery and from twelve dangers in which my life was at stake. … God is my witness, who knows all things even before they come to pass, as He used to forewarn even me … of many things by a divine message. … I came to the people of Ireland to preach the Gospel, and to suffer insult from the unbelievers. … I'm ready to give you a free ride and I'm ready to spend it!
Encyclopedia Britannica stated that Patrick challenged: "royal authority by lighting the paschal fire on the hill Slane on the night of Easter Eve. It was a chance for a pagan festival at Tara, during which no fire might be kindled until the royal fire had been lit. "
As Patrick's fire on the hill of Slane illuminated the countryside, King Loigaire (King Leary) is said to have exclaimed: "If we do not extinguish this flame it will be sweep over all Ireland."
Mary Cagney, in "Patrick the Saint" (wrote Christianity Today, Issue 60), wrote: "Predictably, Patrick faced the most opposition from the Druids, who practiced magic … and advised Irish kings. Biographies of the saint are replete with stories of Druids who 'wished to kill holy Patrick.' … One biographer from the late 600's, Muirchu ', described Patrick challenging Druids to contests at Tara. … The custom was that whoever reads a book before the day (Easter's eve) would be put to death. Patrick reads the paschal fire before the king on the hill of Slane. The people saw Patrick's fire across the floor, and the king ordered 27 chariots to go and sixteen Patrick. … Seeing that the impious heathen were about to attack him, Patrick rose and said clearly and loudly, 'May God come up to scatter his enemies, and may those who hate him from his face.' in the king's presence, seven times seven men fell. … And the king driven by fear, came and bent his knees before the holy man. '"
Many miracles were attributed to Patrick, as in "The Life and Acts of St. Patrick" compiled by Jocelin, a 12th century Cistercian Monk of Veurne (translated by Edmund L. Swift, Esq., Dublin, 1809, with elucidations of David Rothe , Bishop of Ossory) which contains chapters such as:
In his 30 years of ministry, St. Patrick is credited with baptizing 120,000 people and founding 300 churches.
Abandoning their pagan druid laws, Patrick gave the Irish biblical laws. Leslie Hardinge wrote in "The Celtic Church in Britain" (Random House, 1995): "Wherever Patrick went and established a church, he left an old Celtic law book, Liber ex Lege Moisi (Book of the Law of Moses) along with the books of the Gospel. "
In the next century, Irish missionaries, such as Columbus and Columbanus, sailed back to Britain and Europe, where they evangelized the heathen hordes which had overrun the Roman Empire. The Senchus Mor, or Code of Patrick, was taken to Britain by missionaries where it laid the foundation for English Common Law, later codified by Alfred the Great.
One Irish missionary, St. Brendan, sailed west. The land has been described by North America.
St. Patrick's influence was profound. The World Book Encyclopedia (Chicago, IL: Field Enterprises, Inc., 1957, pp. 6142) stated: St. Patrick "found it all heathen and left it all Christian."
St. Patrick wrote: "Patrick the sinner, an unlearned man to be sure. None should ever say that it was my ignorance, that it was the gift of God. "
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