Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day - The Real Story

This quote out of Kathie Walter's book, "Celtic Flames" tells who St. Patrick really was.

Mar 17, 2008


From the book "Celtic Flames" by Kathie Walters


ST PATRICK was born of Christian parents towards the close of the fourth century. His father, Calpurnius, though of British race was by birth a Roman citizen, and held the rank Decurion. The father and grandfather of Calpurnias, Potitus and Odissus, had both been Christians; so that the family had kept the faith at least several generations.

Conchessa, Patrick's mother, was a near relative of the great St Martin of Tours. She was a wise and good woman, and sought to bring up their children in the fear and love of God.

As the son of a Roman Citizen and a British noble he was bound to have had some education. According to the custom of British citizens of the Roman Empire, Patrick was given three names, rendered in Latin as Patricius, Magonus, Sacatus. Patricius meaning ‘Noble', and Sacatus, a Celtic word meaning 'valiant in war'.

Patrick had a brother, Sannan, and five sisters. They all walked in the footsteps of their parents, and all became great servants of God and His Church. Al old chronicler wrote of Patrick:

"There lay great darkness and gloom over the hearts of the heathen until the Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ, scattered His radiance over the quarters of the globe, to enlighten it through His apostles: and through His saints and just men,.. One, then, of the rays and of the flames which the Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ, sent into the world---the ray and the flame, and the precious stone, and the brilliant lamp, which lighted the rest of the world--is Patrick, great bishop of the west, and a father of the belief of the men of Ireland." Calpurnins dwelt at Bannavem Taberniae, which was near the rock of Dumbarton, or in Wales. It was certainly in some part of Roman Britain or Brittany.

The most reliable historical document is the "Confession" of St Patrick, written by himself towards the close of his life. Ancient biographies of him there are in plenty, but not written until three or four centuries after his death. Of these the most important is the "Tripartite Life," which consists of three parts. It is in Irish, with passages in Latin, and many of the quaint expressions in the following close translation of the original manuscripts which were written before the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland.

Historians of modern time have been perplexed by the strange and incredible stories in which the Tripartite Lives abounds, in common with the other ancient lives of St Patrick. And it is hard to reconcile our ideas of the Christian meekness and gentleness with some features of Patrick’s character as he is represented in his missionary journeys; Working miracles to terrify and subdue the enemies of the faith. Patrick's right hand was often raised to bless; but, according to the chroniclers, his terrible left hand was just as often lifted to bring down a curse upon the wicked.

That Patrick worked great and wonderful is beyond question. That they were such miracles that they won him enthusiast admiration and enduring love of the people is certain.

De Vere wrote long ago of Patrick:

"Beholding not alone his wondrous works.

But, wondrous more, the sweetness of his strength,

And how he neither shrank from flood nor fire,

And how he couched him on the wintry rocks,

and how he sang great hymns to One who heard,

And how he cared for poor men and the sick,

And for the souls invisible of men."

Miracles happened even over the birth of St. Patrick. As no priest was to be found, the infant was taken to the blind hermit, Gornias, to be baptized. A difficulty arose because there was no water to perform the ceremony. Gornias, however by faith, took the baby’s hand and with it traced the sign of the cross upon the earth, and as a result, of water gushed forth. Bathing his own eyes the hermit saw, and he then baptized Patrick. In Nemthur under the care of foster mother. He grew in grace and miracles attended his childhood.

"From his childhood he had been able to understand the things if God, even before he knew how to discern between good and evil. Patrick, in the Book of Epistles, said, "And He, God, had pity on my youth and ignorance, and He took care of me before I knew Him, and before I could distinguish between good and evil. And He strengthened me and comforted me as a father does his son."

Fostering was a custom peculiar to the tribal system of ancient Ireland and was regulated by the Brehon laws, which ordained that the sons of nobles should be educated in the homes of the tribesmen until they reached the age of seventeen - the daughters until their fourteenth year.

Although of noble birth, the child was not brought up in luxury. His foster-parents are represented as careful, thrifty people, perhaps living On the farm which belonged to Calprnius, and attending to his flocks and herds.


Once when Patrick was minding sheep with his sister, Lupita, the little girl tripped and fell, striking her head violently against a stone. Her brother was some distance away, but when he returned and found her lying there, unconscious, he prayed over her and raised her up. The wound was instantly healed, and the girl recovered. The scar remained visible, as a proof of the miracle.


On one occasion when the Britons had a meeting, his foster-parents took him with them. While they were there his foster-father suddenly died. At first, a great hush fell upon the assembly, then the man's relatives began to weep, and his wife cried.

Patrick had been playing with the other children, and had not noticed the distress of the people. But seeing what had happened, he ran to his foster-father, and putting his arm round the dead man's neck, he said affectionately; "Get up and let us go home."

The man arose at once at Patrick's word, and full of life, he returned home with his wife and boys.


When Patrick we sixteen years old the Picts and Scots began to raid the coast, plunder and take hostages. One of the most victorious of these ‘sea kings’ was Niall, surnamed, "Of the Nine Hostages" (because he took hostages from nine places). It was during one of Niall’s raids that Patrick was taken hostage one day, along with a maid-servant, his sister, Lupita, and some other companions.

He was taken by ship to Ireland, somewhere along the coast of Antrim and sold as a slave to a petty king, Dalaradia. He was put in charge of a herd of swine and so spent most time out in the fields. But it was there that God was made real to him and as he said later, his eyes were opened to see his unbelief, and he was truly converted. All the scripture which he learned as a child flooded his mind and heart and he decided then that somehow he would become a servant of God.

Milcho was so impressed with Patrick that he asked him to teach his children to read, but Milcho was a druid and opposed to Christianity, which was spreading across Ireland. Patrick had many conversations with the angel of Ireland, named Victor.


One night after six years, he heard the voice of Victorious, the Angel over Ireland, who said "Soon you shall return to your country." A while later the same voice spoke to him again; "Your ship is ready." He managed to escape, trusting God and made his way to the coast. After a few days he found a ship ready to sail, and after some hassles he was taken on board.

Eventually Patrick after months of journeying, arrived home. His parents had died, but his relatives welcomed him.


One night he was awakened by the same angel Victorious whom he had known in Ireland. He was standing beside Patrick’s bed holding many letters in his hand, He selected one and handed it to Patrick. It read, "The Voice of the Irish." Then he heard many voices calling to him to come back to Ireland and bring the message of the Gospel.

Finally God provided a way for Patrick to return to Ireland in 432 A.D.

So the ministry to the Irish began, not without opposition from the Druids and wizards who tried desperately to keep Patrick away from the kings, for they had prophesied of his coming. Patrick believed that if the kings could be won for God, then the people would follow.

One of the main spiritual battles between Patrick and the Druids was fought at the Hill of Tara. In 433 A.D. The High King, Laeghaire (Lea-ry), son of the renowned Niall of the Nine Hostages, had invited the sub-kings and nobles and bards to a lavish festival. It was to start with great bonfires, but until those fires were lit by the Druids, it was forbidden for other fires to be seen.

King Laeghaire, in his efforts to hold his power over the lower kings had given himself to the power of the wizards, and skillful magicians and Druidic priests along with their idols.

Lochru and Lucat-Mael were his chief wizards, and being false prophets they had foretold that "A teacher would come from over the sea to their land: That a multitude would receive him, and that he would find love and reverence from the men if Ireland. He would cast out from their realms the evil kings and lords, and would destroy all the idols; and the worship established by him would abide in the land forever."

No doubt the Druids knew of the progress of Christianity in Britain and Europe. Their brethren abroad had been discredited and they were afraid of the same fate. They were very much afraid of losing their influence and authority.

Patrick leaving the friendly hospitality of Dichu, sailed southward and arrived at Inver Colptha, the mouth of the river Boyne. There Patrick left his nephew, Lomman in charge of his boat. They followed the course of the stream, for about 12 miles until they came to the Hill of Slane, where Patrick proposed to celebrate Easter.

While they rested there on the hill, they saw the magnificent view beneath of the river Boyne; to the north, far away were the purple mountains of Mourne, and to the south lay the beautiful hills of Wicklow.

Against this background, about 10 miles away, stood the royal hill of Tara. The roofs of the palaces shining in the setting sun.


When the sun had set, Patrick prepared to begin the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. It was the first time the paschal fire was lit, never to be extinguished in the land.

Hardly were the Christian torches seen to blaze, when the attention of the High King was drawn to the prodigy. The whole of Mag Breg, (the Beautiful Plain), was illuminated by the fires, while Tara was still in darkness. Angrily the King called his attendants and told them to find out who had dared to light the fires, and break the law he had made for the occasion of the festivals of Beltane and Samhain. They told Laeghaire that there was no need to send messengers to Slane for they knew what the fires were. "We see the fire," they said, "And we know that unless it is quenched on the night in which it is made, it will not be quenched for ever. He, who kindled it, will vanquish the kings and lords of Ireland, unless he is forbidden."

"This shall not be !" cried the king, "but we will got down and slay this man who kindled the fire."

The horses were made ready in haste. Meanwhile on the hill of Slane, Patrick had begin with the others the celebration of the Easter festival, singing and worshiping God.


And so the camp of Christ and the camp of Satan were drawn up in rivalry. Demons hovered over Tara while the Angelic host kept guard over Slane. Patrick, with Victor, the Angel who was the guardian of Ireland, had no need to fear for the result of the contest.

It was late when nine chariots, bearing the king and queen with two chief wizards and a number of nobles came thundering toward Slane.

The wizards began to fear lest the king might fall by taking a hasty action. As they drew toward the Christians, the wizard spoke to king Laeghaire, "You should take heed, they cautioned the king, "Not to go down to the place where the fire was made, and thereby give reverence to the man who kindled the fire. Rather stay outside and let him be called out to you, so that he will know that you are the king, and he is the subject." The king was flattered and agreed.

They drove to the place called, "The Graves of Fiacc’s Men," and they un-yoked the horses. The king and his nobles sat in solemn state, and the warriors stood with their shields erect in front of them, with their chins resting on the top of their shields. In the light of the fires they looked fierce. The king forbade anyone to rise to greet Patrick or any of his company, (contrary to the custom of the Irish). A messenger was sent to fetch Patrick to the king.

Soon a bright procession appeared descending the hill. As Patrick advanced, all eyes were fixed on him. Calmly he sang as he approached the king, "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will call upon the Name of the Lord our God," (don’t you love this?).

As Patrick’s clear strong voice resounded, a feeling of awe filed the minds of the warriors. One man, Erc, the son of Deg, rose to greet Patrick. By grace, in a moment, he believed in God; and Patrick blessed him. Later on he was baptized and eventually became the first bishop of Slane. And Patrick prophesied to him, "Your city on earth will be high and noble."


After a "formal" greeting between Laeghaire and Patrick, the wizard Lochru attacked him angrily with contention and shouting. He became malicious and hostile, and even violent, blaspheming the Holy Trinity. Patrick’s anger was roused and he called upon God, "O Lord, Who can do all things, and on Whose power depends all that exists, You have sent us here to preach Your Name to the heathen. Now let this ungodly man, who blasphemes your Name, be lifted up and let him die."

No sooner had Patrick finished speaking than a supernatural force raised the wizard in the air. He fell heavily down, his head striking a stone. And so he died in the presence of those assembled.

The heathen seeing their own subdued, and realizing that Patrick had more power than the Druids were impressed.

But the king was enraged at the fate of Lochru, on whom he had greatly depended on in all his difficulties. He then wanted to take the life of Patrick. "Slay this man," he cried to his guards, But Patrick stood firmly in his place. With flashing eyes and a resonant voice he said, "Let God arise and His enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Him flee from before His face! As smoke vanishes, so let them vanish away: as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God."

By thus time the sun had begun to rise and the morning splendor bathed the earth. But at the words of Patrick, darkness crept back over the sky and the ground shook with an earthquake.

The swords and spears of the warriors clashed against their shields and it seemed to them that the sky was falling down, and there was no hope of escape from impending destruction.

The frightened horses galloped away in wild confusion, and the wind blew so fiercely that the chariots moved.

Because of the confusion and fear the warriors began to fight among themselves and some were killed. Realizing their mistake, they fled, leaving only three people with King Laeghaire and Queen Angas.

The king remained sullen and silent but the queen rose and approached Patrick. She spoke to him with respect. "O just and mighty man," she said, "Do not destroy the king. He shall come to you and he will do your will and he will kneel and believe in your God," Her influence prevailed and because the events of the past few hours had shaken him, the king kneeled before Patrick, offering peace. It was a false gesture, designed to allow him to avoid the present situation.

From Celtic Flames - Kathie Walters -

Celtic Flames
by Kathie Walters
Retail $7.99.........Suggested Donation $7.00

Accounts of the supernatural ministries of Patrick, Brigid, Cuthbert, Brendan, Kieran etc. Read how these Celtic Christians in the 4th-5th-6th centuries demonstrated the power of God and won the hearts of the people for the Lord. For example, Patrick converted Dublin by raising the king's two children from the dead. Read this and many other wonderful accounts. This book has 96 pages.
ISBN 1-888081-55-4
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