• Jonathan Shuerger

What You Should Know about St. Patrick of Ireland

I'm a big fan of fiction. I don't know if anyone's noticed, but I've got a real problem when it comes to science fiction books. I'm pretty heavily invested in the Warhammer 40,000 franchise, because chainsaw swords and exploding bullets, and I have about 300 novels just in that setting alone: e-books, paperbacks, omnibuses (omnibi?) and audiobooks.

I do this because usually, the fantastical settings and characters hit the level of epic I crave. I devour this kind of content and try to recreate it.

Very rarely, though, I see a real-life story that challenges me with its legend.

Of course, he's Irish.

The Irish are some of the coolest people on the face of the Earth. On my way to Kuwait, where I mustered for my Iraq deployment, we stopped over in Ireland. I was so entranced by the accent of the girl working the snack shop, I kept roaming the aisles just to listen to her talk.

St. Patrick was not Irish, per se. He just made Ireland what it is.

In the waning days of the Roman Empire, a boy from Roman-controlled Britain was taken as a slave by Celtic raiders from Ireland. For six years, he served under his barbarous masters until he finally escaped back home. Patrick became a Christian, and the Lord laid on his heart a burden for the savages on the island of Ireland.

So he went back.

The Celts were confused by this strange man. They were more confused by the strange message he brought of a God who became a man and died for their sins so they could be reunited with God. They were used to their gods, terribly flawed stereotypes of humans who toyed with humanity more than they cared for it.

The superstitions of the Celts terrified them. They refused to sleep without weapons in their hands, lest female demons drag them shrieking into the underworld. They drank themselves into a stupor just to quiet their fears enough to allow them sleep.

They were therefore even more confused when the weaponless prophet of a loving God slept soundly without an ounce of alcohol, night after night.

His God had made him fearless.

This was the impact of Patrick's ministry. His message of a caring God was not heard until the Celts observed the real-world effect that resulted from his adherence to the message. He had left his people and civilization behind, something the Romans considered the most advanced in the world, to live and sleep among a people that despised him to bring them a message they did not understand.

One by one, then by the hundreds, the Celts converted to Christianity. They threw off their fears and embraced the power of the Word of God as a culture. While the barbarians sacked Rome and burned every church and library in Europe, an entire society of Irish monastic scholars copied word for the word the Scriptures, preserving them sacrosanct from the flames engulfing the Empire.

Patrick, through his patient example, won over a group of warriors so terrifying, the Roman legions built a wall to keep them out.

That's the kind of hero I want to be. That's the legacy I want to leave behind.




What do you celebrate on this holiday? (Besides an excuse for rampant alcoholism.)