If the legends are even partially true about St. Patrick (c.389-461), he was a remarkable missionary who moved in supernatural signs and wonders. I shared that St. Patrick was known as a man who raises dead people in a post last year. He was said to have performed over 1,000 miracles.
Here is just a partial summary account of the supernatural life and ministry of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland.
When Patrick was a teenager he was kidnapped and sent to Ireland as a slave. While fasting and praying there, he had an angelic visitation. The angel told him, “It is good that you’ve been fasting and praying. You will soon go to your own country; your ship is ready.”
He did indeed escape and found a ship back to England where he lived with his family for several years. While there, he received a dream about returning to Ireland to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people who had previously enslaved him.
Patrick is traditionally known for having driven the snakes out of Ireland. Perhaps this is just legend. But, metaphorically speaking, he did indeed drive the demonic “snakes” out of a land steeped in the Druid cult religion.
As Mary Cagney points out, “If Christianity had come to Ireland with only theological doctrines, the hope of immortal life, and ethical ideas—without miracles, mysteries, and rites—it could have never wooed the Celtic heart.” (“Patrick the Saint,” Christianity Today)
When Patrick first arrived in Ireland, he was severely persecuted and many attempts were made on his life, but God was with him, performing many signs and wonders through him. He not only healed the sick and lame, stopped fires and floods, he is also said to have raised at least 33 people from the dead, 39 by some accounts, including those who had been buried for years!
For the blind and the lame, the deaf and the dumb, the palsied, the lunatic, the leprous, the epileptic, all who labored under any disease, did he in the Name of the Holy Trinity restore unto the power of their limbs and unto entire health; and in these good deeds was he daily practiced. Thirty and three dead men, some of whom had been many years buried, did this great reviver raise from the dead, as above we have more fully recorded.” (“The Life and Acts of St. Patrick” translated from the original Latin of Jocelin, Cistercian monk of Furnes of the 12th century, by Edmund L. Swift, Esq., Dublin, 1809.)
He is also said to have raised a man’s horse from the dead! You can read more of these stories here.
Patrick prophesied over the then small village that it would one day be a great city. He also caused a fountain to spring up there. After raising both the king’s son and daughter from the dead, King Alphimus had the whole “city” baptized into the new faith. That city is now called Dublin.
“After the raising of this royal brother and sister, churches were built and tributes appointed to Patrick as their patron, that is, as the first Archbishop (or Bishop) of Ardmachia. It is reputedly from the revived Princess Dublina that the present great city of Dublin got its name.” (From Saints Who Raised the Dead, True Stories of 400 Resurrection Miracles, by Fr. Albert J. Hebert, S. M. This book, along with numerous other Catholic works, is published by TAN Books, Inc)
There’s a story of sailors that were starving with no food. St. Patrick told the doubting sailors to have faith in God, and suddenly a herd of pigs appeared.
The shamrock was used by St. Patrick to convert people to Christ. It made things easier for him when trying to explain the concept of the Trinity, the three-in-one representation of God as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
St. Patrick was a missionary bishop to Ireland for about 30 years. During this time, he converted nearly the whole island from paganism, overturning the religion of the druids. He consecrated 350 bishops, erected 700 churches, and ordained 5,000 priests. He is now considered the patron saint of Ireland.
On March 17th, 461, Patrick died. The Catholic Church officially recognized him as a saint soon afterward, and set his feast day for the day of his death, so Saint Patrick’s Day has been celebrated on March 17th ever since.
As we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day today, let’s remember that he was about much more than parades and green beer. He was a man of great faith that should be an inspiration to us all.
Beannachtaí na Féile Páraic oraibh!
(“St. Patrick’s Day blessings upon you!” in Gaelic)