Many of you probably do not know the Papal Artifacts curator has been a columnist for the Duluth, MN diocesan paper, Northern Cross, since its inception in 2005. For all this time he has written Apologetics columns which contain many subjects apropos to his website.
Apologetics deals with answering critics who oppose or question the revelation of God in Christ and the Bible. It touches on the key issues of our Christian faith.
We often cull the years he’s written to find commentaries from him on a wide variety of topics often including the papacy, the Vatican, relics and saints.
We hope you enjoy the information presented today.
St. Patrick — the Beloved Scottish Saint
The summer this commentary was written the Diocese of Duluth ordained six men to the priesthood, tying the largest class in the history of our diocese.
It will be a trick finding assignments for all of these guys because usually a new priest is assigned with an older and more experienced pastor to learn the ropes, so to speak.
I look back fondly on my first assignment. My pastor was a great role model for me as a young priest starting out. We became good friends, and with friendship came bantering.
You see, he was an Irish priest, so everything Irish became a target, including the beloved Scottish saint, St. Patrick.
Yes, you read right: Patrick was Scottish, not Irish. The fact that Ireland completely identifies itself with a Scottish saint was something I, of course, made great hay with. But there is a lot more to St. Patrick than just this interesting fact.
As with many of the early saints, we have limited reliable information, since the first biography wasn’t written until two centuries after his death. We can glean some information about this popular saint from Scotland by two of his own writings: his “Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus” and his “Confessions.” Most of what we think we know of St. Patrick actually comes from later sources and legends.
What we do know is that Patrick found himself in Ireland at the age of 15 after he was kidnapped by a group of Irish thugs. He was kidnapped along with some of his father’s slaves, giving us a clue that he came from a fairly wealthy family.
Needless to say, Patrick hated Ireland and his captivity. He missed his family and his homeland, and the difficulty of living as a slave laborer made him want to get out of Ireland at his first opportunity. During his time in captivity, he learned the Celtic language and came to a working understanding of the Druid religion and Irish cultural traditions. This was God’s way of preparing Patrick for his future missionary activity on the island.
Because of his difficult situation, Ireland is where Patrick found God. In his “Confessions” he speaks of how he turned to prayer during his captivity. That is when he became friends with Christ.
Seven years after his kidnapping, at the age of 22, Patrick escaped Ireland by sneaking on a boat headed back to his home country. After returning home with great joy, he told his family that he would never leave them again. He by no means wanted to travel back to Ireland.
But not long afterward, Patrick, in a vision from God, learned he had to return to Ireland — not as a slave to the people but as a slave to Christ — to bring Christ to the Emerald Isle and convert the populace from paganism.
Pope St. Celestine I made Patrick a bishop and sent him back to the island where he had formerly been a slave. The pope warned him that he would endure fierce opposition from the natives and that converting the country would not be an easy task.
After many attempts and even attacks from the Druids, Patrick was able to convince many of the people of the truth of Christianity. As the familiar story tells us, Patrick was able to use the bountiful shamrock to explain the one God as a Trinity of persons.
This, of course, is an oversimplification of the saint’s work. He had to battle against many different chieftains throughout the country. He mentions in his “Confessions” that he and his companions were imprisoned at least twelve times by the natives.
Besides combating the pagan religion, Patrick also established many churches and dioceses. One account has him ordaining 350 bishops to help spread the Gospel.
On his deathbed, St. Patrick had a vision of the entire country lit with the flame of Christ, and a voice promised him, “Such shall be the abiding splendor of Divine Truth in Ireland.” St. Patrick died on March 17, 493.
Though I wish no offense to my Irish friends, I am all too happy to point out that St. Patrick was not Irish. He was forced into going to Ireland by kidnappers, and he escaped from it the first chance he got. He returned to Ireland only after having a vision and then being ordered by the pope to go back. He proceeded to convert the country, which was almost completely pagan at the time.
So happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of you, and God bless Scotland!
The Saints & Blesseds Section of the Collection
Here are just a few of those you will find there & the link to them.
The Papal Artifacts’ Collection is primarily dedicated to artifacts connected to the papacy. Individual popes, their biographies and multiple items belonging to them, including first and second class relics, make up the majority of this Collection. But that isn’t all it is.
Father Kunst has a deep devotion to the saints as can be readily seen in viewing the Saints & Blesseds section of this site. We invite you to visit Papal History/Saints & Blesseds to view the many canonized and beatified men and women who make up this section of the Collection.
Although no artifacts are available from St. Patirck, we invite you to visit Saints & Blesseds to enjoy the many individuals featured there and the items presented with them.