March 17: St. Patrick, Missionary to Ireland


The He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you — that everything about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”


St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, was born ca. AD 389 in Roman Britain, the son of the alderman (and later deacon) Calpornius. At the age of sixteen, while staying at his father’s country estate, he was seized by Irish raiders and sold as a slave in Ireland. He was a shepherd there for six years until he managed to escape, find a ship, and eventually reach home. His experience resulted in a spiritual conversion. Patrick now was certain about the vocation to which he was called — he was to preach the faith to the Irish people. He studied for the priesthood on the Continent, and while his superiors did not favor his mission to Ireland, he persevered. Upon the death of Bishop Palladius in 431, Patrick was named his successor and consecrated bishop for Ireland.

His mission concentrated on the North and West of Ireland, where the Gospel had not been preached before. Local kings provided protection for him, and he traveled extensively, baptizing, and building monasteries.

Patrick was criticized by the British when he demanded the excommunication of the British Prince Coroticus, who, in a retaliatory raid on Ireland, killed some of Patrick’s converts and sold others in slavery.

Patrick was a vigorous missionary and Bishop. He died in the year 461.

from Festivals and Commemorations
by Philip H. Pfatteicher

A Reading from the Confession of St. Patrick

“I give unceasing thanks to my God, who kept me faithful in the day of my testing. Today I can offer him sacrifice with confidence, giving myself as a living victim to Christ, who kept me safe through all my trials . . . He answered my prayer in such a way that in the last days, ignorant though I am, I might be bold enough to take up so holy and so wonderful a task, and imitate in some degree those whom the Lord had so long ago foretold as heralds of his Gospel, bearing witness to all nations . . . If I am worthy, I am ready also to give up my life, without hesitation and most willingly, for His Name. I want to spend myself in that country, even in death, if the Lord should grant me this favor. I am deeply in His debt, for He gave me the great grace that through me many people should be reborn in God . . . It is among that people that I want to wait for the promise made by Him, who assuredly never tells a lie. He makes this promise in His Gospel: They shall come from the east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This is our faith: believers are to come from the whole world.”


God of grace and might, we praise you for your servant Patrick, to whom you gave gifts to make the good news known to the people of Ireland. Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds and evangelists of your kingdom, so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of our Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

— Pastor Stickley