March brings many great things. This month brings spring, March Madness, my birthday (hooray!), and St Patrick’s Day. New life and old celebrations come to the forefront in this wonderful month. Since March is often associated with green, I thought it would be appropriate to focus here on Wisdom Wednesdays on the Emerald Isle of Ireland. While I might be a little biased towards the Irish, the roots of Christianity are incredibly deep there and I have learned incredible things from these Irish Christians of old.*
When we think of Ireland and Christianity, typically the image of St Patrick comes up. Patrick was a man from the Scotland area who was captured by Irish seafarers and was brought to work in Ireland at around the age 16 in 401-5 AD (the date of this event is not quite certain). A few years passed in slavery before he would escape from the island and from his chains. Later in his life, he received a deep impression by God to go back to the island that once held him hostage. God had called him back to the pagan island of his captivity to bring the good news that Jesus was Lord. Decades later, he was ordained in his late 40s and then returned to the island in 432. He would spend 30 years on this island and eventually died around 462.
Patrick was a bishop of the church, who would also become a missionary to the land. He frequently confronted many chieftains in Ireland. As a former slave, he knew the land and culture well, and he was able to spread the faith across the island. At that time, the Celtic tribes were militaristic and engaged in human sacrifice from time to time. However, through the spread of the gospel of Christ, change occurred in that land. While some missionary forces spread the faith through the point of a sword, both the missionary effort of Patrick and the monastic movement within Ireland would help spread the faith peacefully. Ireland would become a beacon of light during the tumultuous times surrounding the Fall of Rome. The missionary force from this island would help spread Christianity across the continent.
In the remaining posts of this month-long series, we will explore the unique distinctions of Celtic Christianity and also the robust prayer life of these ancient followers of Christ.
*I am indebted to Michael Bischof of Souleader Ministries for this information. His class at Fuller Seminary tremendously helped me in my walk with Christ and also introduced me to this incredible saint.