In honour of a missionary a national holiday is established and even rivers turned green! That missionary is none but St Patrick, the missionary to Ireland.
Patrick was born in AD 373, along the banks of the river Clyde. His father was a deacon, and his grandfather was a priest. When Patrick was about 16, raiders stormed and torched their town. Patrick tried to hide, but one of the raiders spotted him and dragged him out of the bushes, hauled aboard the boat and took him to Ireland, as a slave. His conversion took place there. Later he wrote: “The Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief, in order that I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart tot he Lord, my God.”
Eventually Patrick escaped and returned home. His family was overjoyed to have him back, not wanting to lose him again. But one night, in a dream, very similar to Paul’s vision of the Macedonian man in Acts 16, Patrick saw an Irishman pleading with him to come evangelise Ireland.
Patrick was about 30 years old when he returned to his former captors with the Gospel of Jesus. As he preached multitudes came to listen. The Druids opposed him and tried to kill him. But this did not deter him. Patrick’s preaching was powerful and blessed by the Lord. It is reckoned that he planted some 200 churches, baptising thousands and thousands of people.
Patrick’s ministry endured long after he went to be with the Lord. Centuries later the Irish church continued producing hymns, prayers, songs of worship and sermons. In the 8th Century an unknown poet wrote a prayer asking God to be his Vision, his Wisdom, his Best Thought day and night.
In 1905, Mary Eliza Byrne, a Dublin scholar, translated the ancient poem into English. Another scholar, Eleanor Hull, in Manchester, crafted the translation into verses and metre, which then was set to a traditional Irish folk tune, called Slane. Through this praise Patrick’s ministry still endures, inspires and blesses us.