March 17 is the feast of
Saint Patrick. He died in 461. His grave is on the grounds of Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, Ireland.
He lived with his family in England. His father was a Roman official, a Deacon. At the age of 16
he was kidnapped by a raiding party from Ireland. He spent six years as a slave in Ireland.
He was poorly treated. He tended sheep in the wilderness. This period of his life was one of loneliness
and deprivation. He turned to God and developed a close relationship. He also learned the Irish language
and religious customs. After six years he escaped and made the difficult trip back to his family in England.
He studied and was ordained a priest. He had dreams of Irish people asking him to return to Ireland.
Saint Patrick forgave the people who kidnapped and enslaved him.
He received permission to return to Ireland as a missionary. Others before him had failed to make converts in Ireland. It was a violent and difficult place. Patrick, because he knew the language and religion of the Irish, was uniquely prepared. He was successful. He baptized over 100,000 people and established over 100 churches. Many people worldwide can trace their Christianity to Saint Patrick.
He not only brought Christianity to Ireland, he also brought advanced Roman technology. Saint Patrick is the patron Saint of Engineers. He introduced the use of mortar in the building of churches and arches. He worked to improve people's physical as well as their spiritual lives. Missionaries today do the same. They build schools and hospitals to improve the lives of the people they work with.
Saint Patrick, Patron of Ireland, Patron of Engineers, pray for us.