The Irish druids worshipped the sun, moon, and stars.Â When St. Patrick came in the fifth century, he taught the people to worship “the true Son of God who is Christ.”Â There were already some Christians in Ireland before St. Patrick came.Â Scotland, Wales, and Gual all claim to be the birthplace of St. Patrick.Â Born of Christian parents in the fourth century, this Patrick was brought as a captive to Ireland when he was about 16 years old, and he was compelled to spend six years herding sheep on a mountain in Antrim along the northeast coast of the island.
St. Patrick’s story is preserved in his own confession telling a clear, simple account of his mission to Ireland.Â In his own story he tells us, “I was daily tending the flocks and praying frequently every day that the love of God might be more enkindled in my heart.”Â The young captive escaped at last, but in his heart he always felt the Irish were calling him back to walk among them with the light of faith, preaching the gospel.
Patrick’s mother was a near relative of a French saint, Martin of Tours.Â After his escape, Patrick returned to his parent’s home and under Martin began to study for his coming mission to convert the Irish.Â He studied for years; in fact, he was around age 60 when he set out on his mission.Â He landed in Ireland in the year 432, and henceforth Patrick’s name was to be first and most honored in the history of the Irish people.
Patrick was a most successful missionary.Â No blood was shed, no martyrs made in the conversion of Ireland.Â Wherever he went the Saint turned first to the chiefs, and having won the chiefs, he won the people.
On Lententide, the season of prayer and penance, Patrick went to the top of a lonely mountain in country Mayo in the west of Ireland and prayed for the salvation of the Irish people.Â The mountain still bears his name, and every summer to this day there is a morning of pilgrimage to the summit, and visitors from all parts of the world climb the steep slope to commemorate the Patron of Ireland.Â Thus is the past visibly connected with the living present.
Patrick died on March 17, some say in the year 460 A.D.Â This day, March 17, is the only national holiday observed in Ireland.Â Patrick had made Ireland a Christian nation.Â Churches and schools arose in a land that was already in love with learning.Â And from that day forth, Ireland was respected throughout Europe as a nation of schools and scholars.
(Taken from Ideas and Information for Fun Family Traditions All Year Round by LaDawn Jacob)