Breastplate of Saint Patrick – Greetings from our DP!

11th March 2024

Dear Fellow Members
As I write this letter, St Patrick’s Day is approaching. You may not know it, but we live in the countryside, in the foothills of Slemish Mountain. I thought you might be interested in learning a little about our Patron Saint.

Patrick lived in the fifth century. His father owned a farm, somewhere on the west coast of Britain. He was a reasonably wealthy man and Patrick was used to a life of luxury.

At the age of 16 Patrick was taken captive to Ireland. Being used to the benefits of Roman civilization, he must indeed have been dismayed at being abducted to primitive pagan Ireland and sent out to mind sheep or herd swine on a hillside for an unimportant local chieftain. Patrick considered his ‘exile’ in Ireland as the ultimate sacrifice demanded of him by God.

Six years tending sheep on a mountain was enough to turn this carefree British youth into a deeply religious 22-year-old who had a steadfast faith in his God. On a word from God, he found the courage to travel 200 miles to Wicklow, mostly under cover of darkness, where he found a ship bound for France. He studied at a monastery there before returning home. Not long afterwards he had a dream which prompted him to return to Ireland.

Patrick’s real work began on the shores of Strangford Lough, near Downpatrick. He set up his first church in a wooden barn at Saul. About 30 years later he died and was buried in what is now the churchyard of Down Cathedral.

He used the little three-leafed shamrock to explain about God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Patrick is said to have written this prayer:
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in mouth of friend or stranger.

Although he lived about 1600 years ago, the character of the man shines through his writings and still inspires us today.

I trust you will be inspired by Patrick this springtime.
With my love

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