Patrick and the Evangelization of Ireland

Patrick, the great missionary to the Irish, lived around the time 389–461. He was most likely born in Roman Britain but sources are not completely positive. Calpurnius, who was Patrick’s father, was a deacon and magistrate. Although we know of Patrick the details of his life and ministry are widely debated and many myths and legends are passed down from generation to generation. The two sources that tell of accounts about this Irish missionary are, The Confession and A Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus. At the young age of sixteen, Patrick was working on his father’s farming property when a group of raiders stole him away to be a slave on the Irish slave market. While being held captive, Patrick’s love and devotion for Christ deepened. Instead of becoming bitter he grew in his heart a vision for evangelizing his dear homeland, Ireland. After six years of shepherding for his captors and masters, he escaped and eventually reached home again. In 432 when Patrick returned home to Ireland, he came as a bishop and spent his next thirty years ministering to the people there. Although he was not a widely educated man he encouraged learning and possibly gained his ideals from the contact with the strict monasteries in Gaul that he came into contact with while in captivity. Later in the Irish church the basic element became the monastery led by the abbot, rather than the bishop’s diocese. He later began to emphasize the ascetic life and monasticism. During the sixth and seventh centuries Patrick was a large encourager of evangelizing of Western Europe.

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