“St. Patrick was born in Great Britain around the year 385. As a young man he was captured and sold as a slave in Ireland where he had to tend sheep. Having escaped from slavery, he chose to enter the priesthood, and later, as a bishop, he tirelessly preached the Gospel to the people of Ireland where he converted many to the faith and established the Church. He died in 461.” (taken from Liturgy of the Hours)
Below is an excerpt taken from the Confessions of St. Patrick. The words witness to a great depth of faith and offer much to reflect upon.
I give unceasing thanks to my God, who kept me faithful in the day of my testing. Today I can offer him sacrifice with confidence, giving myself as a living victim to Christ, my Lord, who kept me safe through all my trials. I can say now: Who am I, Lord, and what is my calling, that you worked through me with such divine power? You did all this so that today among the Gentiles I might constantly rejoice and glorify your name wherever I may be, both in prosperity and in adversity. You did it so that, whatever happened to me, I might accept good and evil equally, always giving thanks to God. God showed me how to have faith in him forever, as one who is never to be doubted. He answered my prayer in such a way that in the last days, ignorant though I am, I might be bold enough to take up so holy and so wonderful a task, and imitate in some degree those whom the Lord had so long ago foretold as heralds of his Gospel, bearing witness to all nations.
How did I get this wisdom, that was not mine before? I did not know the number of my days, or have knowledge of God. How did so great and salutary a gift come to me, the gift of knowing and loving God, though at the cost of homeland and family? I came to the Irish peoples to preach the Gospel and endure the taunts of unbelievers, put up with reproaches about my earthly pilgrimage, suffering many persecutions, even bondage, and losing my birthright of freedom for the benefit of others.
If I am worthy, I am ready also to give up my life, without hesitation and most willingly, for his name. I want to spend myself in that country, even in death, if the Lord should grant me this favor. I am deeply in his debt, for he gave me the great grace that through me many peoples should be reborn in God, and then made perfect by confirmation and everywhere among them clergy ordained for a people gathered by the Lord from the ends of the earth. As God had prophesied of old through the prophets: “The nations shall come to you from the ends of the earth, and say: ‘How false are the idols made by our fathers: they are useless.'” In another prophecy he said: “I have set you as a light among the nations, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”
It is among that people that I want to wait for the promise made by him, who assuredly never tells a lie. He makes this promise in the Gospel: “They shall come from the east and the west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” This is our faith: believers are to come from the whole world.