Despite the “pop-culture” association of St. Patrick’s Day with leprechauns and green beer, this is actually the feast-day of a very impressive and influential saint of the early Church: Saint Patrick (Patricius) was a Briton who became the missionary to and evangelist (and ultimately, Bishop) of Ireland, which in turn ultimately led to the amazing flowering of faith and culture which was early Christian Ireland – and the salvation of the Classical inheritance of Western Europe, during and following the period often known (somewhat incorrectly and misleadingly) as the “Dark Ages.”
This morning The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Irish Guards barracks in London to present them with Shamrock as part of St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
“To learn of the many missionaries and martyrs of the Church who have gone abroad throughout hostile nations is to be moved by the hardships unceasingly endured, and the intensity of heroic virtue constantly displayed, to accomplish the work of God. Even so, I cannot help but esteem the labors of St. Patrick as among the greatest of those who have traveled far and wide for the discipleship of Christ.”
“On this day, we look to find the strength of St. Patrick in ourselves—that is, in our bishops and priests, in our religious and laity—to articulate the challenge of faith in the midst of difficult, even impossible, odds. In this age of ours, who would dare to go before senators and judges, declaring in the likeness of the saint: “Some put their trust in nations and some in avarice for every earthly thing; but we in the Lord our God”? Whether berated with the din of laughter, or caught in the clamor of scorn, it is our special task to give to the world this expression of the serenity and hope of Christian fortitude: a power that is never irrational, never violent, but also never afraid. And if it is thought by some to have diminished, or even gone wholly out of the Church, I stridently assert that in some persons its example remains unbroken…
“Although it is undoubtedly true that each and every one of the Church’s saints display a faith and virtue which is for all the ages of the world, I would especially believe that St. Patrick—though he lived some sixteen centuries past—is truly a saint for our times.”