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A Toast to St. Patrick, the Evangelist

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Forget wearing green, getting pinched or even being Irish. This day is about a man of God who cared about harvesting souls. Cheers!

Ireland has a very distinctive history. It was an island untouched by the Roman legions, and Patrick, the Evangelist, brought to it the Gospel of grace.

Patrick was himself descended from a family that had been, for two generations at least, in Christ Jesus. His father, he tells us was “the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a presbyter, of the settlement of Bannaven Taburniae.”

These facts are recorded in Patrick’s own testimony of faith. This authentic document is preserved in five manuscripts: one in the Book of Armagh of the seventh century, the second in the Cotton Library of the tenth century, a third in the French monastery of St. Vedastus, and two more in the Cathedral Library of Salisbury. This authenticated document is the main source of both the person and the mission of Patrick, and also his clear statement of the Gospel of grace. Click here to read the rest.

16 Comments

  1. I wasn’t going to respond to this until I clicked that link and saw the claim that St. Patrick wasn’t Catholic.

    That’s very interesting considering that the person the holiday commemorates was sent to Ireland by Pope Celestine I and that in the 5th century the only Christianity being spread in Europe was from the Roman church. (Okay, there were many heresies at the time, but I don’t think anyone claims Patrick was Nestorian or the like.)

  2. Or, was sent by Saint Germanus of Auxerre. History can be pretty muddled.

    It appears that even once you strip away the obvious additions to the myth, most scholars agree to a 2 Patrick theory – that what we mean by Patrick was really a combination of Patricius (below) and Palladius (referenced above and mentioned in the article).

    The letter writer – the Patrick you’re concerned with – is thought to be Magnus Sucatus Patricius. That’s the Patrick associated with St. Germanus. But, I think that would still be the Roman church.

    But anyway, that’s nether here nor there. Thanks for the info, I love this kind of stuff.

  3. Well, you know, it’s that darned “history” stuff again. I’m afraid this source you used gives an interwoven historical and mythic account.

    It’s hard to tell a lot about St Patrick, because there are only two letters that he wrote that are unquestioned documents: his Confessio (alternately “Confession” or “Declaration”) and his Letter to the soldiers of Coroticus . A lot of the details of his life come from later writers, some of whom were known to take liberties with the truth.

    One theory (which this mentioned) is that many details of his life were originally attributed to Palladius, the first Bishop of Ireland, sent in 431 from Rome. But Ireland was a big place (especially back then), and bishops in different parts of the country are variously considered “first.”

    According to the Annals of Ulster, he was actually born in 340. His father, Calpurnius, wasn’t a deacon but a decurio (leader of a group of ten) – a civil rank, which meant he was head of a local council (he was also a rich Roman citizen). This is a translation error usually attributed to Ludwig Bieler.

    His grandfather was a presbyter, but that just meant “priest” in the early church. And Patrick was a Catholic, discipled to St Germain in England for many years under the orders of the Pope, after escaping to Europe and entering the priesthood.

    Just so you know.

  4. Thanks for the info perdita and Nameless!

  5. Oh, that was just a teaser!

    As mentioned, the stories around him are a mix of reality and legend. The ‘protestantizing’ of Patrick seemed to have happened in the 1600’s as part of Britain’s attempt to replace Roman Catholicism with the (Protestant) Church of Ireland.

    Even with all this in mind, I think an evangelical would find the two letters interesting. But, it would be nice if they could be presented in a less divisive way, without playing tug-of-war over who really owns the guy (I’m not saying Steve was doing that, just that there’s a lot of that out there).

  6. My understanding was that Ireland already had Christianity but Patrick was sent to bring them into submission to Rome. I guess everyone just makes up their own version of the events in which Patrick becomes “one of us.”

  7. Yesterday at the Hermosa Beach, St. Patrick’s parade, I was able to witness to a non believer. I asked if he knew who St. Patrick was and he said, “No”. I then told him that St. Patrick came to the understanding that he had broken God’s law and confessed the Savior, Jesus Christ. The non-believer then said, I don’t believe that because I’m Jewish. I asked him if he believed in absolute morality and he said, “no” as he walked away. I tried talking to his friend who was standing nearby and he told me to get away. So, I left without getting the Gospel out.

    1 Peter 3:15 But first sanctify the Lord Jesus in your hearts, always be ready to a reason for the hope that is within you with gentleness and respect.

    I love St. Patrick’s Day.

    • Richard wrote:
      “1 Peter 3:15 But first sanctify the Lord Jesus in your hearts, always be ready to a reason for the hope that is within you with gentleness and respect.”

      You did; too bad he wouldn’t listen!

    • Absolute morality would never allow for a father to send his child to murdered to supposedly save others, so you don’t really believe in “absolute” morality either. What you believe is that God requires us to be perfect or burns us in hell if we aren’t, despite having created us imperfect and being fully aware of it. “But, good news, God’s provided a loophole; if you’ll believe in Jesus you don’t have to be perfect anymore.” But the Jews have never read the Law as saying God requires absolute perfection — that’s what repentance is for! — so the whole concept of the gospel is based on a very Gentile, out of context reading of the Law.

      • Okay, who wants to correct rey’s grievous misunderstanding of Scripture. Have you been watching that History Channel series?

      • I don’t know which part of what I said you’re objecting to, but if its that God “created us imperfect and [is] fully aware of it,” you’ll note that the Genesis account says nothing about having created Adam and Eve (or anything else for that matter) “perfect”: it says “good” which is not equivalent to “perfect.” “Good” is generally thought to be less than “perfect” in normal speech; but of course, in fundamentalist interpretation of Genesis they are made equivalent! It being blasphemy, I guess, in fundamentalist eyes to think God would create anything less than perfect. But if Adam and Eve were created perfect, how could they sin? You can blame our sins on original sin as much as you like, but you can’t blame the original sin on original sin, so if they were created perfect, they could not have sinned, but they did sin, hence they were created imperfect, yet “good”. Furthermore, in Job, in the long speech of God’s which many commentators think is not to the point, God brags on the ostrich, a bird that it says “forgets” that its eggs may be trampled on and so hides them in the sand(!). In pointing out to Job that the ostrich is not perfect, is God blaspheming himself? Or is he making a point, namely that God will accept the imperfect righteous man (like Job) despite their imperfection, quite contrary to Job’s friends’ Calvin-esque doctrine that God is such a perfectionist he cannot even look at the stars without condescension. Job’s friends assert even the angels are unclean in his sight, he must condescend to view the very heavens, but God brags to Job about the ostrich and the duck-billed-platapuss. Kinda puts things in perspective.

  8. Hello Steve,
    I wanted to thank you for the Lucky Irish tract download. My wife and I went out for St. Patrick day parade and everyone except one person took it.

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