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Maewyn Succat (St. Patrick) Brings Jesus's Gospel To Ireland  (approx. 432 A.D.)

              There's something about Ireland.  It's green, and beautiful.  Its people are somewhat unique in their love of literature and poetry, learning of all sorts, and in their passion for Christ.  So famous was the knowledge of God, scripture, and history held by the Irish that it was not unknown in mainland Europe 1500 years ago that a wandering Irish monk might be stopped by the local baron or duke or king and given such offers as "If you will help found and then lead a monastery school in my lands I will give you the land, build the school buildings and church structures, and provide for your own needs also." 

              European rulers were hungry to see their people achieve the prestige and learning that the famed Irish scholars were bringing to the lands of their rivals and peers.  There was a time when you could do no better as a school than to be led by hard nosed pragmatic Irish monks fervent in service to the Lord.  No one knew the old languages better, and therefore the scriptures.

              The Irish were instrumental in spreading the word of Jesus to countries throughout the world, and it can be said of nearly any area founded by Irish immigrants that there was a strong underlying Christianity, nearly all Catholic, to the culture there.  The Irish have undeniably been important to Christ far beyond their numbers.  Said by some historians to have been originally peopled by descendents of the Israelite tribe of Dan through the Firbolg, Tuatha de Danaan, and Milesian immigrations, the Irish seemed almost predisposed towards Christianity.  But how did it come to their land?  

              No one single person did so much to establish the Church in the Emerald Isle as the man commonly known as St. Patrick.  God seemed to have chosen him specifically for the job.

              Born Maewyn Succat in 387 A.D. (but given the baptismal name 'Patricius', meaning 'Noble') he was from Kilpatrick Scotland, a boy born to parents Calphurnius and Conchessa.  His father was from a high ranking Roman family and his mother was related to another worker for Jesus, St. Martin of Tours.  When he was about 16 years old Irish raiders carried him off to captivity in Ireland, in an area where he would be used as a shepherd boy by his master in the Braid Valley of Ireland, near modern day Ballymena.

              His master, Milchu, was a high priest of the Druids, and through him Patrick became intimate with the beliefs and rituals of that dark religion.  He also gained full mastery of the Gaelic tongue while serving here.  Already acquainted with Christianity from his youth, he spent a great deal of his time in prayer and song to God during his years as a slave, and later remembered it as a time of fervent faith in his life.  He recalled to some that in that period of his life he sometimes said over a hundred prayers a day.

              After about 6 years of being a slave, he had an angel visit him, encouraging him to flee from his cruel master, and letting him know a ship would be waiting.  He made his way across a couple hundred miles of Ireland to a ship that, as he'd been told, was there and about to set off from Ireland.  After some initial refusals he was allowed to board the ship, and he made good his escape from Ireland and was soon among relatives in Britain.  He was then  about 22 years of age.  He had returned home with a confirmed desire to serve God.

              He was soon studying to earn and learn a place in the church under St. Germaine, who was the mentor who made him a priest as well.  Together they fought heresies such as Pelagianism in the church and advanced the faith.  But Patrick began to receive dreams where children, Irish children, would call to him and say "Oh Holy youth, come back to Erin (Ireland), and walk once more among us."  He must have let this be known as his wish.

              There came the day of his appointmet to that very task - the bringing of Jesus to the Irish.  Pope Celestine I assigned Patrick to bring Christianity to the Irish.  Another had been sent - a man named Palladius - but it seemed that he met such heavy resistance that he gave up and died that same year.  In the spring of 433 A.D. Patrick landed on Irish shores with a few companions near Wicklow Head.  The Druids met him with fierce resistance there, but he decided merely to move to Dalriada to begin.  He planned to meet his old captor and pay the freedom price of his slavery and then present the man with the Christian faith. 

              Traveling on his way, he performed his first remarkable deed through the power of God. Patrick was met by a chieftain named Dichu who attempted to block his progress.  The man in fact drew his sword to strike Patrick dead, but through the power of God his arm suddenly became unmovable - stiff and rigid.  And it would not unfreeze until he pledged to acknowledge Patrick and be obedient to him.  Then he regained the arm's full use. 

              The man Dichu then gave a gift to Patrick of his barn (sabhall, pronounced 'saul') to be used for Christian purposes.  It became a favorite retreat for Patrick - a church was built there - and it's still to be seen today.

              His plan to convert his former captor to Christ did not work out.  News traveled ahead of Patrick about his intentions to see his old master, and also about the power evidenced by his God Jesus.  His former slave master - Milchu - was too proud of a Druid to be bested by the God of a former slave of his, so he set his house on fire then allowed himself to perish in the flames.  Patrick saw the smoke in the distance even as he approached.

              On March 26, 433 (also Easter Sunday) there was to be a big assembly at the celebrated Irish hill called Tara, where the Ard Righ (High King of Ireland) had his court and castle.  A decree went out beforehand that for a day previous to their meeting no fire would be allowed in all the king's lands until they started a blaze at the Royal Mansion.  All the royal chiefs and Brehons (Judges in the ancient Irish legal system)  were to be gathered for this regular festival. The Druids were there in especially strong numbers, as they were aware that a new challenger for the hearts of the Irish was afoot:  these messengers of Christ.  The Druids meant to face their new enemy quickly, before they became strong.  The demons of their religion had delivered a prophesy that the messenger of Christ had come to Ireland, and they were very concerned about these tidings.

              Patrick's answer to this ban on fires was to come to the hill of Slane, there in the valley where Tara lay, and build a great big fire for all to see on the night before Easter, while the ban was in effect.  The Druids saw it, and quickly went to warn the High King about their prophesy concerning this fire:  They told the king that this fire they were seeing could never be extinguished in the land of Ireland unless it was extinguished this very night.

              Despite making attempts during the night, Patrick and his fire were shielded from all the Druidic attempts to extinguish it, and day came.  They had not succeeded.  Then Patrick dressed in the full garb of his position as a bishop of Ireland, and with his staff and a companion bearing aloft the scriptures, they approached Tara.  Here the Druids made their last stand, so to speak.  Through their most powerful incantations they were able to cloak the hill - Tara - in a thick darkness.  Patrick challenged them to make it immediately dissipate.  When they could not, he prayed aloud to Jesus, and bright light broke forth, eliminating the darkness, and lighting up evertything with bright sunshine. 

              The highest Druid priest - the man  named Lochru - then levitated his body using demonic powers - until he was high above them all. But, then Patrick knelt in prayer, and the Druidic priest was hurled down upon the rocks broken and killed.  The Druids' power was broken by that of Jesus, and all of the greatest nobles of Ireland had been there to witness it. 

              Patrick came twice before the High King Leoghaire at Tara then to teach of Christ.  In both cases the King directed the people of his court beforehand to show no sign of respect to this Patrick, but in both cases there was someone who simply could not help themselves, and rose in respect when Patrick entered.  Both eventually became ardent followers.  The High King himself came to admire Patrick, and gave him permission to teach of Jesus in Ireland.

              One of the early converts was found at the Irish National Games - which was like a giant fair - nearby and not long later.  The High King Leoghaire's brother, Conall, came to believe there at Telltown and on April 5th of 433 A.D. he became the first officially baptized Irish convert of Jesus through Patrick, so they call that day the beginning of Baptism in Erin.  (Erin is another name for Ireland) Conall's family seemed to be especially blessed because of this.  From his line came many kings for almost 600 more years, and Columba, who converted many to Christ in Scotland, descended from him as well.

              Eager to move on to other parts of Ireland with the Word, Patrick was travelling and heard of a large pagan festival at Magh-Slecht where a large stone pillar was sheathed in gold and silver and represented Crom-Cruach (the chief Druidic Idol).  It was erected with twelve lesser stones set up around it to represent lesser gods.  Patrick went there and denounced the false religion.  He struck the large pillar with his wooden bishops staff (a crosier) and it crumbled into gravel and dust, and the twelve small stones all fell at the same time.  Surely a work of God!

              At the next place, Killala, a king and his 6 sons were baptized, after which 12,000 of the people of their realm were baptized as well.  And so it went.  District after district, county after county, through Ireland he travelled.  He set up about 380 churches in his roughly 36 years of work before retiring an old man.  With so many churches spreading the word, Christianity in Ireland truly had become a fire that could never be extinguished, just as the Druids' woeful prophecy had forcast. 

              In finishing his story, it might be fitting to note that Patrick once spent 40 days fasting and praying for Ireland and its people on a mountain, intent on obtaining heaven's promise for the future well being of the Irish.  In the end, messengers from heaven starting bringing him promises of ever more gaurantees for the Irish future, including this very strange one:  Seven years before the day of judgement the sea will spread over Ireland to save its people from the temptations brought by and the terrible deeds to be done by the anti-Christ.

              Patrick died about 461 A.D. by some accounts.  Other accounts say he lived much longer, becoming over 100 years old.  Either way, he is buried about 20 miles south of Belfast in the town of Downpatrick, in Northern Ireland.  He is revered in Ireland, and where ever the Irish have settled.  He was certainly used to great advantage by God, and was able to display many deeds of God to the Irish he was sent to convince, to the Glory of God and the salvation of the Irish soul.

©2017 Daniel Curry & 'Deeds of God' Website