by Gary Bergel
Consider the unusual preparation and devotion of Patrick, Apostle to Ireland:
Accounts vary concerning the exact place of Patricius Magonus Sucatus’s birth to his Roman parents, Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were living in some region of Britain in the year 387. At age 16 Patrick was kidnapped in a raid and taken as a slave to Ireland and put to work as a shepherd. In captivity he turned to God in intense and desperate prayer and drew comfort and instruction from the Christian faith that he and so many others had abandoned under Roman rule. During this unusual time of “preparation,” he learned the language and customs of the Irish people who held him – thus becoming familiar with the pagan and druidic practices. He escaped after six years (some say by angelic direction in a dream) was recaptured, returned, and escaped again after two years.
Discipled by Germanus of Auxerre for over 10 years, Patrick was ordained about 417, consecrated as a Bishop in 432 and was sent to replace Bishop Palladius in Ireland, who had been largely ineffective in bringing the Irish to Christ. Patrick landed in 433, boldly presented the claims of Christ, penetrated the clan and entered into strategic spiritual warfare with regional chieftains. Patrick’s strategy was to convert chief’s first, who would then convert their clans. His former slave master, chief Milchu, was one of his earliest converts.
In direct defiance to an edit by the King and local druidic priests, Patrick lighted an Easter Vigil fire honoring the resurrected Christ, “the light of the world.” The druidic priests sensed spiritual authority and anointing on Patrick and prophesied: “this fire, which has been lighted in defiance of the royal edict, will blaze forever in this land unless it be this very night extinguished.” They tried, but it continued to burn despite many physical and spiritual efforts to extinguish it.
Christianity spread throughout Ireland and Patrick discipled hundreds in his Celtic order of Christianity who went out, penetrated, and effectively evangelized many regions of Europe. There is a resurgence of Celtic Christianity today among multitude of young adults and young-at-heart believers who are hungering for an incarnational faith. Patrick’s “fire” continues to burn.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
“You are the light of the world…. Let your light shine before men.” Matthew 5:14-16
We bind ourselves to you, and your Name to us, this day Lord Jesus, as Patrick and his band did in their day.