I find St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland and engineers, fascinating. Facts about his age, his birthplace and the events of his life are uncertain and the subject of much debate. We do know Patrick was born the son of a farmer and, while living in France, had a life changing encounter with God. This experience redirected Patrick’s life and turned him into a missionary transformer of Ireland.
Patrick’s amazing adventure began as a teenager when he was captured by Irish raiders and sold into slavery. His fate as a slave could have been worse, but God’s hand was already at work preparing Patrick for his destiny. As a trained shepherd, Patrick was of special value to his captors and therefore was sold into private duty as a shepherd of his owner’s flocks. The shepherd’s life was lived uncomfortably exposed and dependent on one’s own wits and on God’s mercy. Patrick was almost always cold and wet, often hungry and constantly watching for dangers that could threaten him and the flock in his care.
Once a young adult, Patrick managed to escape Ireland and is believed to have fled to France where he stayed for a time before returning to his native Britain. France was another divine appointment for Patrick. Town records show he spent at least two years studying at Auxerre, France while visiting Bishop Germanus. It is believed this is where Patrick was converted to Christianity before he returned home. Once back in Britain, Patrick began to struggle with his knowledge of the pagan nature of Ireland and their need for God. He began to have dreams of Irish children reaching out to him and believed this was God calling him back to Ireland.
Patrick may have not have been prepared to deal with the resistance he faced from the leaders of the pagan druid clans of Ireland. But, what he lacked in strategy, he made up for with the tenacity of his faith and conviction. Patrick’s training as a shepherd of sheep prepared him well to be the spiritual leader and shepherd of Ireland’s lost masses. Many of the druid kings conspired to have Patrick killed because of his apostolic works. Omnipotent God, in His great mercy, protected Patrick and his fledgling church, oftentimes confusing the minds of those who plotted against him, and blinding the eyes of his pursuers causing them to walk right past him.
The longevity of Patrick’s ministry is evidence of God’s protection and blessing upon his works. The seeds of belief planted by Patrick have grown into fields of faith, ever green and producing fruit in abundance for God’s kingdom – even missionaries following Patrick’s example. It is fitting that Celtic monks memorialize St. Patrick by reciting his “Lorica” or “Breastplate Prayer” – the eighth verse reads: “Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.” St. Patrick’s legacy will forever remain alive and ever green.
© 2014 Curt Savage Media