The man referred to as St. Patrick has a lot of stories and myths surrounding his life. The way St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated these days with all its pagan superstition and debauchery is not in keeping with how he lived his Christian life, and that includes how the Roman Catholic Church uses him to promote themselves.
According to Patrick’s Confessio, he was born in Britain in the late 300s or early 400s AD to a “churched” family since his father was a deacon. It seems that his family didn’t take the Christian faith seriously and eventually Patrick was taken captive by raiders from Ireland at 16 years old and made a slave. He believed his captivity–along with thousands of others in his region–was due to the fact their society was Christian in name only and raiders were sent as God’s punishment. While a slave, he became aware of his need for Christ as his Lord to save him from his sins. He was reminded of all the scriptures he was taught in his younger years and confessed Jesus as his Lord.
After six years as a slave, he escaped. Several years after his escape and personal study of the scriptures (he admits he never went to seminary, nor was he an eloquent theologian), he returned to Ireland to reignite the gospel there. Thousands of souls got saved by his preaching. I say he “reignited” the gospel because ancient documents as mentioned by John Foxe (of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs) in his Acts and Monuments and by historian William of Malmesbury in the 1100s indicates that Joseph of Arimathea and others with him spread the gospel (starting in 63 AD) to the Celtic tribes by the end of the 1st century AD.
However, by the time Patrick was born, the Celts of Ireland had reverted back to their paganism, embracing Druidism. Another thing of note about Patrick is that he never embraced Catholicism, if we look at his words both in Confessio mentioned above and in his Letter to Coroticus. He never declares allegiance to the Pope or promotes the 7 sacraments or confesses any mariolatry (worship of the “Virgin Mary”). What he did do in Coroticus is give these scathing remarks on how badly the “Roman Christians” were persecuting believers in Christ–
‘They have filled their houses with the spoils of dead Christians, they live on plunder. They do not know, the wretches, that what they offer their friends and sons as food is deadly poison, just as Eve did not understand that it was death she gave to her husband. So are all that do evil: they work death as their eternal punishment.
“This is the custom of the Roman Christians of Gaul: they send holy and able men to the Franks and other heathen with so many thousand solidi to ransom baptized captives. You prefer to kill and sell them to a foreign nation that has no knowledge of God. You betray the members of Christ as it were into a brothel. What hope have you in God, or anyone who thinks as you do, or converses with you in words of flattery? God will judge. For Scripture says: “Not only them that do evil are worthy to be condemned, but they also that consent to them.”‘
Apparently he didn’t think very highly of the religious system that uses his name today.
Harry A. Gaylord