St. Patrick’s Day Not Just About Shamrocks and Cabbage


Leonard Goenaga

What comes to mind when you think about St. Patrick’s Day – shamrocks, leprechauns, corned beef and cabbage?    Not surprisingly, these symbols have very little (if anything) to do with the man behind the holiday.  Once we remove the legends and myths, Patrick’s inspirational testimony is more about the golden rule than a pot of gold.

Patrick was born in Roman Britain during the 4th century to wealthy parents.  But at the age of sixteen, he was abducted, taken into slavery, and brought to Ireland to work as a shepherd.   Missing his family and fearing for his well-being, Patrick began his journey of faith through daily prayer and conversation with God.  Upon hearing God’s voice in a dream, Patrick escaped his six-year captivity, and traveled by foot to the coast – eventually making his way back to his homeland and family.

Following 16 years of religious training, Patrick was ordained a priest and sent back to Ireland as a missionary to minister to and convert the very people who robbed him of his youth.

There, Patrick spent the remainder of his life preaching, converting, and baptizing the Irish people.   Because of his obedience to God’s call, Christianity spread throughout all of Ireland and by the 7th century Patrick become known as the patron saint of Ireland.

From slave to shepherd, St. Patrick’s life was characterized by conversion, conviction and compassion.  And Christians to this day celebrate the life of Patrick on March 17th – an ordinary boy turned missionary, transformed by God’s extraordinary grace. 

St. Patrick led a faith-driven life in the time and place to which he was called.  Are you doing the same?

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