The Real St. Patrick

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. I hope that you have a great day filled with joy and meaning. You should even wear something green.

As someone who claims Irish heritage, it is kind of a nice, sentimental day, but it usually has absolutely nothing to do with the real Patrick.

As you would expect, we really don’t know much about Patrick. We do know that he had been held a prisoner in Ireland and escaped. We do know that Ireland had not heard the Gospel and that Patrick returned to Ireland to preach the Gospel, probably around A.D. 450. According to his words, thousands of people were baptized.

Several years ago I read a book about the Celtic method of evangelism. I no longer have the book so I cannot reference it, but I remember it well. The author used St. Patrick as an example of how to take the Gospel to people. Patrick met the Druids and pagans who inhabited Ireland and helped them understand the Gospel. In a short matter of time, Ireland became predominately Christian.

Most likely, that story won’t be told much in the Irish parades across the country. Too bad. It’s a better story than the legends of Patrick. Many of those legends come from seventh century writings about him. Two particular legends come from that time. The first, and best known, is that Patrick chased the snakes off the island. Not true. As best anyone can tell, Ireland never had snakes.

The second is almost as famous. How is the shamrock associated with Patrick? According to the legend, he used it to explain the trinity. It probably didn’t happen that way, but the shamrock will probably stay connected to Patrick anyway.

Maybe St. Patrick’s day should not be about green beer and a party.

Maybe St. Patrick’s day should be associated with a bigger party–the one that regularly occurs in Heaven when one sinner, like those in Ireland before Patrick arrived, turn to God. This is the party that counts. The kind of party that doesn’t lose its appeal; the kind that provides lasting joy.

Maybe you and I should use the day to talk about the trinity and the value of a lasting relationship with God.

That will make this day something to really smile about.

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3 Comments


  1. Ed Matthew
    Mar 17, 2012

    Happy St. Pat’s to you Raboni Lad!

    Tis the reason for the Green!

    The Green of Life, worn to be seen!

    Cast out the snakes? Not the miracle you see.

    Warring tribes to get along,

    The Miracle that be!

    Erin Go Brach: Lovely Ireland or Ireland forever! Put a shamrock with it and it’s Ireland wherever I am.

    May it be thus and so with the Trinity. For all ta know:
    His Bride and Body er we go!

    Romans 12: 3-6


  2. Scott Hymel
    Mar 17, 2017

    Google “St. Patrick’s bad analogies” to view a very funny video on St Patrick trying to explain the Trinity. Some theological humor that one of my professors created.

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I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. — Romans 1:20 (NIV)