Chicago celebrates St. Patrick’s Day by making the Chicago River green for the day. This annual tradition goes back to 1961.
When I served as a youth pastor, one St. Patrick’s Day celebration, I thought it would be fun to provide a breakfast for the youth and add green food coloring to everything. So, we had green orange juice, green milk, green butter, green eggs, green everything. Although food coloring does not change the taste, for some reason drinking green orange juice and green milk somehow just tasted different!
Like many of these celebrations, myth often overshadows the true and real story. Regarding Patrick (385-461) and his ministry in Ireland, there is a lot of myth, legend and embellishment. But once you sift that out, there is also truth, which far surpasses the myths. Although he was never recognized or acknowledged as a saint in the traditional Roman Catholic sense, he was considered the Apostle of Ireland.
One of the things I encourage you to do is to during these annual remembrances, rather than just let the day pass, is that you use it as an opportunity to study, to learn more about the person, in this case Patrick and his call to God and his call to Ireland, first as a slave and second as a missionary, so that you know the difference between what is truth and what is fiction.
Here are a couple of brief historical overviews of the history of Patrick. In this first one, Michael A. G. Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, writes about 10 Things You Should Know about St. Patrick
- Patrick was not Irish.
- Patrick left two genuine writings: his Confessionand his Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus.
- Patrick’s conversion came as a result of his being taken as a slave to Ireland by Irish raiders.
- Patrick’s mission to Ireland from around AD 430 to 460 was virtually the only evangelistic mission in fifth-century Western Europe.
- Dreams play a prominent role at key turning-points in Patrick’s life, but Scripture was the central factor in the major decisions of his life.
- We have no idea if Patrick read any other books than the Bible, for that is the only book he ever quotes.
- Patrick’s love for the written words of the Bible was passed onto the Celtic church, which became the most learned body of churches in
- At the heart of Patrick’s faith was his love for the doctrine of the Trinity.
- Legends about Patrick are legion.
- Patrick’s mission to Ireland has been an inspiration to a number down through the years.
In this second historical recounting, Stephen Nichols, president of Reformation Bible College, chief academic officer for Ligonier Ministries, and the host of the podcast 5 Minutes in Church History, asks and answers the question, Who Was Saint Patrick and Should Christians Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
After a brief historical review of Patrick’s life and ministry, Nichols concludes with a prayer traditionally attributed to Patrick, one for which he is known. It is referred to as “St. Patrick’s Breastplate.”
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.