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St.Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland

Icon of Saint Patrick, Equal-to-the-Apostles and Enlightener of Ireland
Icon of Saint Patrick, Equal-to-the-Apostles and Enlightener of Ireland

From a pre-schooler to a retiree, majority of Americans will opt to wear green on March 17th. A three-leaf clover will see many unusual applications and Irish music will fill the air. The Irish will set for festive parades and everywhere people will remember St. Patrick, who is heralded in the hierarchy of Christian saints as Equal-to-the-Apostles and an Enlightener of Ireland. Obviously, his contribution to the history of Christianity has nothing to do with modern commercialized portrayal of a “holly jolly” man who enjoys Guinness and likes clover…

Rarely these days one would know (unless a research is done) a true story of this pious ascetic, who was neither Irish nor called Patrick by birth. He was born at the end of IV century with the name of Magon to a high-ranking Celtic Christian family in western Britain. The future Enlightener of Celts, according to St. Patrick’s own account at his Confessio (Latin) and his Epistle to a Northumbrian chieftain Coroticus, received the name of Patricus at the age of 16 from Irish pirates (Lat. noble man) during his captivity and slavery. Thus, a patrician by birth became Patrick in Christ. The known fact that his captivity was spent among Irish Christians proves that Christianity in Ireland was established earlier, before St. Patrick’s apostolic service began in 432 (source: His message of love and joy of knowing one and true God created such a lasting resonance in the souls of Irish people that the Irish Church was the last one in Europe to be subjected to Roman Catholicism.

The success of evangelism of St. Patrick was mainly credited to his missionary vision of harmonious and peaceful transformation of pre-Christian druid beliefs of Irish people. Remarkably, centuries after St.Patrick’s repose in 461(or in 492 AD), the Christian Ireland was known as “the island of saints”. By the VIII century, the Church of Ireland reached its Golden Age and accounted for 350 local saints with no martyrs among them, mostly bishops, monastics, and ascetics.

“The true achievement of early Irish Christians is not in becoming the best brewers, but in acquiring the joy of God’s knowledge with simple heart. The prayer, which is traditionally ascribed to St. Columcille (or Columba), one of the greatest Irish saints from the monastic island of Iona (VI century), is a bright witness about this Evangelic joy which, by God’s will, St. Patrick brought to Ireland:

My dear God,

Be my torch

To light my path,

My guiding star

And easy road,

And be my kind Shepherd,

Today and always”.

(Translated from Igor Petrovskiy’s “Fiery Apostle, or three prejudices of St. Patrick”,

On March 17, there is an Orthodox way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day - visit local Orthodox churches in Columbus:

St. Gregory’s: Matins with the Reading of the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete 6:30 pm


St. Barnabas: Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts at 6 p.m. (a light lenten potluck meal will follow the Liturgy)


Greek Annunciation Cathedral: Small Compline and St. Andrew’s Canon 6 pm


St. Nicholas: St. Andrew’s Canon 6 pm



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