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Medieval-England
Ireland – The Land that Patrick Won as a Jewel for Messiah’s

St. Patrick’s Day has been widely known and celebrated in the West for over a thousand years, but very few people realize the great lessons the life of St. Patrick offers us today. At the age of 16, Patrick was captured from his parents’ Christian home in Briton, brought to Ireland as a slave, and put in charge of the animals. Patrick, not yet a Christian, spent his time in the fields living no better than the animals he kept.

He He was cold, dressed in rags, hungry, without human comfort, and isolated for months at a time, from any human contact. Finally, with nowhere else to turn, Patrick turned to Jesus whom his parents had taught him so much about. God did not disappoint him, and Jesus revealed Himself to Patrick in a mighty way. From then on, Patrick spent his time on the Irish hillsides in prayer and worship. The year was 400AD.

Of Of his experience with God during his captivity among the Irish, Patrick would later write, “Tending flocks was my daily work, and I would pray constantly during the daylight hours. The love of God and fear of Him surrounded me more and more – and faith grew and the Spirit was roused, so that in one day I would say as many as a hundred prayers and after dark nearly as many again. I would wake and pray before daylight – through snow, frost, rain – nor was there any sluggishness in me because the Spirit in me was ardent.”

Irish Idolatry

Ireland lay beyond the Roman Empire and outside the civilizing influence of Rome. After 250 years of preaching the Gospel by faithful followers of Jesus Christ and the death of countless martyrs, Rome, once the home of a pantheon of gods and the worship of the Caesars, had become a Christian empire.

The Irish, untouched by the Roman world, spent their lives in ignorance, in sexual escapades, in murdering and beheading people just for the fun of it. Their leaders were Druids. While they sat as judges and settled disputes. they also engaged in human sacrifice. Huge wickerwork images were filled with living men and then burned.

The rest of the Irish were wholly given to idolatry and demon worship. Young Patrick lived among these uncivilized barbarians and served an Irish chieftain who decorated his palace with the heads of men mounted on spears.

When the Irish went to battle, the warriors would be visited by a warrior spirit demanding possession of them. As they surrendered to demon possession, they would fall into what they called the “warp-spasm.” They then experienced total demon possession, which made them look horrendous and fierce in battle. They would rush into battle naked, screaming, and terrifying their enemies. The visage of the warrior spirit was so terrible, often a number of men would die from fright. Escape from Slavery/Called to Preach the Gospel

After six years as a slave, Patrick heard a voice saying – “You are going home – Your ship is waiting for you.” He went to the seashore and there was a ship sailing for Briton. He sought for passage from the members of the crew After first being refused because the crew could see he was an escaped slave, they finally agreed to take him home.

Patrick’s family were overjoyed to see him, greeted him warmly, and were thankful for his return. Patrick was truly happy to be home. One night in a dream, a man he knew in Ireland appeared to him with a number of letters. On one letter was written, “The Voice of the Irish.” At that moment he heard a multitude of voices calling, “We beg you come and walk among us once more.” Patrick writes, “I was deeply moved in heart and I could read no further, so I awoke.” Through many more visions, he began to hear the voice of God saying, “He who gave His life for you, He it is who speaks to you.”

Patrick was not disobedient to the heavenly vision and answered God’s call to go back to Ireland to preach the Gospel. Patrick knew that the demons the Druids worshiped had power. He went to a monastery and studied for 10 years to be prepared for the conflict. Upon returning to Ireland, Patrick was thoroughly armed with the whole armor of God so He could stand against “the wiles of the devil.” It was just before Patrick went back to Ireland that he wrote his famous Breastplate Prayer asking God to protect him from all evil. Patrick brought with him the power of God and miracles.

The Rage of the Heathen

Patrick believed that if he could win the Kings of Ireland, he could win the Irish people. He was determined to go to the High King Laeghaire and to meet him on the eve of Christ’s Resurrection. The High King had given himself over completely to the power of the wizards, skillful magicians, and Druidic priests, along with their idols. He knew that the King would be lighting fires to worship their demon gods on the same day. All the sub-kings nobles and bards would be there. Animal and human sacrifices were to be offered to seek demonic favor

To open the ceremony of Druid celebration, it was forbidden for anyone to light a bonfire until the King had first lit his fire on the Hill of Tara to signal that the celebration had begun. Patrick decided it would be proper to honor the True God and Creator and King of all mankind on the eve of His resurrection from the dead, before the King could call on his demonic powers. So Patrick built his bonfire on the opposite hill, the Hill of Slane, and as soon as the sun set, he lit his fire.

The High King was furious and gathered his warriors to go and find the man who would be so bold as to defy his orders. Having arrived in the valley below, the King set up his throne and sat down surrounded by his nobles. His warriors stood in front of them with their chins resting upon their shields. The King sent his messenger to fetch the man who had dared to do such a thing.

Patrick went willingly with the King’s warriors. As he approached the throne to meet the High King, the King’s head wizard began to scream blasphemies and shouted angrily at Patrick. Patrick was so grieved by his words he prayed, “O Lord, you can do all things and all things exist by Your power alone. You have sent us here to preach Your Name to the heathen. Now let this ungodly man, who blasphemes Your Name, be lifted up and let him die.”

As soon as he finished praying, a supernatural force picked up the wizard in the air, threw him down to the ground, and he hit his head on a stone and died. The King was furious because he depended on this wizard’s power. He shouted, “Slay this man!”

Patrick stood his ground and with flashing eyes proclaimed, “Let God arise and His enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Him flee from before His face! As smoke vanishes, so let them vanish away: as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.”

A great earthquake began to shake everyone present. It knocked down the King’s soldiers, who wound up fleeing in terror. Many nobles were converted. After this and other demonstrations of the power of God and the preaching of the Gospel, the High King eventually knelt before Patrick and believed in Jesus Christ. Patrick continued preaching throughout Ireland and suffered many threats to his life, yet Patrick single handedly won all of Ireland to Jesus Christ turning them from paganism, idolatry, and the power of satan to the power of God, and received the Irish into Christ’s kingdom.

Salvation of Gadarene Demoniacs

Patrick came to understand the “bright side” of Christianity in his experience of seeing barbaric heathen turn completely around from the power of Satan to the power of God and become transformed into completely different people. He looked into the hearts of others, and through his own personal experience of seeing the Irish heathen turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, he was convinced of the power of God to totally transform the human personality. He knew that even “slave traders can turn into liberators, even murderers can act as peacemakers, even barbarians can take their places among the nobility of heaven.”

Thomas Cahill observes in How the Irish Saved Civilization, “The passionate, the outsized, and the out-of-control have a better shot at seizing heaven than the contained, the calculating, and those of whom this world approves.”

Never forget that Jesus’ first evangelist was the Gadarene demoniac, who ran out from behind the tombstones screaming, naked, and beating himself with chains, and fell down at the feet of Jesus. Jesus cast a legion of demons out of him and he was sane, clothed, and in his right mind. The former demoniac begged Jesus for permission to go with Him. But Jesus said, “No. Go everywhere and tell everyone the great things God has done for you.” Evidently he did. When Jesus came back through the region over 5,000 people came out to hear Him teach.

We need to make sure we are not among those who have a hard time accepting a person like Matthew the tax collector or Mary Magdalene, or find ourselves echoing the Pharisee’s words when the woman broke the alabaster box, poured precious ointment on Jesus’ feet, wiped them with her hair, and washed his feet with her tears. The Pharisees reasoned, “If this Jesus is really a prophet, he would know what type of woman this is – she is a sinner!”

St. Patrick’s Legacy

The spiritual awakening sparked by Patrick’s preaching went on for hundreds of years. When Alaric and the Visigoths sacked Rome and burnt the libraries of Europe, monks from Egypt and Syria fled to Ireland, bringing their precious cargo of books – Bibles and the body of Western literature. Irish monks dutifully copied these books for hundreds of years, keeping learning and Christian civilization alive in Ireland, while Europe fell into darkness, illiteracy, and ignorance.

Irishmen wrote more than half of our biblical commentaries between 650 and 850 AD. Hundreds of years later, monks still being touched by the spiritual awakening sparked by Patrick’s preaching, called themselves the White Martyrs, returned to Europe, and spread out across the continent as far East as Kiev. At the same time that the Muslim religion was beginning, and most certainly would have swept the ignorant of Europe up with their philosophy, the Irish monks came from Ireland to reseed Europe with the lost books of civilization, learning, the Bible, and the Gospel.

Manuscript-Book-Mural-Library-of-Congress-John-White-Alexander

Manuscript Book Mural, Library of Congress, John White Alexander, 1896

Patrick’s monks founded monasteries and established libraries. They called people to faith in the Gospel, and like John the Baptist preaching to Herod, exhorted Roman church bishops who were leading scandalous lives to conform their lives with the Word of God and holy living. They re-established literacy, kept Truth alive, and saved Christian civilization.

Down Down through history we can see that God’s Truth has been marching on conquering and to conquer. It cannot, and will not, be stamped out, but is destined to become “a great mountain and fill all the earth.” (Dan.2:35) And here is a truth that is beyond all dispute – Jesus delights in choosing the most unlikely characters to advance His kingdom. (1 Cor. 1:25-27)

St. Patrick was an evangelist, but first and foremost he was a man of prayer. He faced a heathen nation fully given to the power of the occult and possessed by demonic forces, the seat of ancient demons. He dispelled the evil and won the Ireland to Jesus Christ.

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

In 433 AD, before Patrick converted the Irish people from paganism to Christianity, he wrote the following prayer that he felt shielded him from all the power of men and devils and kept him clothed with the mighty power of God. The prayer is known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate. (The term breastplate refers to a piece of armor worn in battle.)

When St. Paul referred to putting on the whole “armor of God” to fight sin and evil inclinations in his letter to the Ephesians, he could have been thinking of prayers just like Patrick’s. Our armor as a Christian is first and foremost a spiritual one. But, do we really understand how important that armor is. Paul exhorted, “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.” (Ephes. 6:13) According to Paul, heavenly armor is something that you can put on by faith, and it will enable you to not only resist the enemy, but escape the backlash and not be destroyed in the fight, but still be standing when the battle is done.

St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, Through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.

I arise today through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,

Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,

Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,

Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today through the strength of the love of cherubim,

In the obedience of angels, in the service of archangels,

In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,

In the prayers of patriarchs, in the predictions of prophets,

In the preaching of apostles, in the faith of confessors,

In the innocence of holy virgins, in the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through the strength of heaven, the light of the sun,

The radiance of the moon, the splendor of fire, the speed of lightning,

The swiftness of wind, the depth of the sea,

The stability of the earth, the firmness of rock.

I arise today, through God’s strength to pilot me,

God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me,

God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to save me

From snares of devils, from temptation of vices,

From everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and near.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,

Against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose my body and soul

Against incantations of false prophets, against black laws of pagandom,

Against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry,

Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,

Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;

Christ to shield me today against poison, against burning,

Against drowning, against wounding,

So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me,Christ above me,

Christ on my right,Christ on my left,Christ when I lie down,

Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness, through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.

Quotes from Patrick the Saint by Mary Cagny, Christian History.com
How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill.

If you liked this story about St. Patrick then you are guaranteed to love the stories of the victory of Christianity in time and in history presented by Charles Coffin in his classic 19th century The Story of Liberty. One history professor stated, “If there was one book I could recommend to understand the “Why” of America, The Story of Liberty would be it.” Learn what was happening in Europe and the Protestant Reformation that changed the world forever and brought the Pilgrims to the rocky shores of North America. Learn more about how Christianity has transformed the World.

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