St. Patrick Was Not Irish

by Jeremy O'Bryan

On the 17th of March every year, much of the developed West celebrates St. Patrick’s Day. To most, it’s about the Irish, and the drinking of green beer. Or some kind of beer. A black heady Guinness, for example.

But the day is actually about the man of God — a priest, a church planter, and an evangelist — Pádraig, as he’s known in the Gaelic. And he isn’t Irish at all. He was born in Britain as a subject of the Roman Empire, then kidnapped as a teenager by Irish raiders and whisked off to Ireland. There he spent six years as a shepherd and a slave. He eventually escaped his captors, but had a vision that led him back to Ireland to evangelize among the people there. He baptized thousands and turned many men into priests to oversee various communities, in effect planting churches.

Guiness Extra Stout

Furthermore the tradition of the shamrock, the three-leaved clover, reminds us not just of the emerald isle itself in all its green glory, but also of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

So the 17th of March is more than just a good excuse to hoist an endless procession of pints. It’s the day we celebrate the life of one of the most prolific evangelists and church planters in history. Hoist one if you will, but do it for the right reason.