Today is Saint Patrick’s Day throughout the Western world, a day to venerate and celebrate the life, death, and Christian service of Saint Patrick (the day coincides with the supposed date of St. Patrick’s death). Of course, now the holiday has devolved into a drunken festivity in which everyone pretends to be Irish for a day, downing pints of green beer and wearing green.
The real story of Saint Patrick is far more interesting than the debauched modern celebration. Patrick was the son of a wealthy family in what is now Britain in the declining years of the Roman Empire. Irish raiders captured Patrick and sold him into slavery in the Emerald Isle. Working alone as a shepherd, isolated and afraid, Patrick turned to Christ for solace and strength.
After escaping captivity, God called him back to Ireland, not as a slave, but to deliver Ireland from its spiritual bondage. After his ordination, Patrick returned and preached the Gospel to the pagan Irish, sparking a major religious revival among the people there. Ultimately, Ireland became second perhaps only to France in its dedication to the Catholic Church, and unlike its Gallic co-religionists, maintained that devotion well into the twentieth century.