Growing up, when I thought of St. Patrick, I thought about 4-leaf clovers, wearing green to avoid being pinched, and something about Patrick chasing the snakes out of Ireland. But about ten years ago, I heard the true story of St. Patrick..
Driving to work, I was listening to Chuck Colson’s Break Point. He described Patrick, a man born in Roman Britain in A.D. 390, captured during a raid, and taken to Ireland as a shepherd slave. It was here, during many months of isolation that Patrick’s inner life changed.
Patrick had been raised in a Christian home, but he didn’t really believe in God. But now — hungry, lonely, frightened, and bitterly cold — Patrick began seeking out a relationship with his Heavenly Father. As he wrote in his Confessions, “I would pray constantly during the daylight hours” and “the love of God . . . surrounded me more and more.”
How amazing that God hadn’t forgotten him! It reminds me of this verse- Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
The story continued to get better. Patrick saw a vision in the night telling him to escape, he walked 200 hundred miles to the Irish coast, and he boarded a ship back to England. But once there, he knew that his life had been radically changed, and he entered a life of full-time ministry, studying to become and monk and later a bishop.
Thirty years later, Patrick felt that God was leading him to go back to Ireland, a land full of pagan, violent, child-sacrificing people. But Patrick obeyed, returned, and shared with the Irish how to have a relationship with the one true God. Through Patrick, God converted thousands.
Colson ended his story with this powerful statement:
Saint Patrick didn’t chase the snakes out of Ireland, as many believe. Instead, the Lord used him to bring into Ireland a sturdy faith in the one true God – and to forever transform the Irish people.
To read more about this fascinating life, check out Colson’s article, “Apostle to the Irish: The Real St. Patrick.”
So each year at St. Patrick’s Day, I tell this story to my kids. I want them to know that St. Patrick’s Day is about God’s faithfulness to Patrick, Patrick’s obedience to God, and God’s love for the Irish people.
To make it a even more memorable, we bake Grandma Betty’s delicious Irish soda bread and eat a warm slice while learning about this memorable man.
- 3 C white flour
- 1 C wheat flour
- 1 t soda
- 3 t baking powder
- 2 t salt
- 1 beaten egg
- 2½ C buttermilk
- 1 beaten egg to glaze top before baking
- Sift dry ingredients together into a large bowl.
- Mix egg and buttermilk together and stir in, beating well.
- Mix and knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic.
- Shape into one round loaf.
- Place on a cookie sheet.
- Cut a deep cross on top and brush with beaten egg to glaze.
- Bake 35-40 minutes at 375 degrees.