"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." -Benjamin Franklin
Today we raise a glass of beer to a fine fellow, the Irishman who didn’t rid the land of snakes, didn’t compare the Trinity to the shamrock, and wasn’t even Irish. St. Patrick, who died 1,507, 1,539, or 1,540 years ago today—depending on which unreliable source you want to believe—has been adorned with centuries of Irish blarney. Innumerable folk tales recount how he faced down kings, negotiated with God, tricked and slaughtered Ireland’s reptiles.
The facts about St. Patrick are few. Most derive from the two documents he probably wrote, the autobiographical Confession and the indignant Letter to a slave-taking marauder named Coroticus. Patrick was born in Britain, probably in Wales, around 385 A.D. His father was a Roman official. When Patrick was 16, seafaring raiders captured him, carried him to Ireland, and sold him into slavery. The Christian Patrick spent six lonely years herding sheep and, according to him, praying 100 times a day. In a dream, God told him to escape. He returned home, where he had another vision in which the Irish people begged him to return and minister to them: “We ask thee, boy, come and walk among us once more,” he recalls in the Confession. He studied for the priesthood in France, then made his way back to Ireland.
He spent his last 30 years there, baptizing pagans, ordaining priests, and founding churches and monasteries. In all, Saint Patrick baptized over 120,000 Irishmen and planted 300 churches. His persuasive powers must have been astounding: Ireland fully converted to Christianity within 200 years and was the only country in Europe to Christianize peacefully. Patrick’s Christian conversion ended slavery, human sacrifice, and most intertribal warfare in Ireland.
"As a youth, nay, almost as a boy not able to speak, I was taken captive … I was like a stone lying in the deep mire; and He that is mighty came and in His mercy lifted me up, and raised me aloft … And therefore I ought to cry out aloud and so also render something to the Lord for His great benefits here and in eternity — benefits which the mind of men is unable to appraise." -Saint Patrick
"If someone is going to criticize you, it’s more of a reflection of them than it is of you." - Greg Graffin