If you wear a clover today, you might want to make sure it has 3 leaves, instead of 4, if you want to be true to the meaning of St. Patrick’s Day.
If you’ve never read about the real Patrick, of whom the day speaks, it is one exciting story. I thought I would share a bit of it here today, by quoting an excerpt from our favorite history book, The Mystery of History (Vol. II):
One tragic day, Patrick’s youthful rebellion cost him his freedom. While playing on the rocky shores of England at the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates! Imagine one minute hanging out on the beach with your friends and the next minute being thrown on a pirate ship in chains! Patrick never knew if he would see his family or his home again.
The pirates sold Patrick to other Irishmen who kept him in slavery for six years! Like the parable of the Prodigal Son, Patrick’s job was taking care of pigs. In the first year of Patrick’s imprisonment, he thought long and hard about the things his parents had taught him. He especially thought about the faith he had rejected. In his words, this is what happened:
‘I was sixteen years old and knew not the true God; but in that strange land the Lord opened my unbelieving eyes, and altogether late, I called my sins to mind, and was converted with my whole heart to the Lord my God, who regarded my low estate, had pity on my youth and ignorance, and consoled me as a father consoles his children.’ “
At that point, the adventure was just beginning. Patrick grew in his faith, eventually escaped from slavery, and then went back to the very same land of his enslavement (Ireland) as a missionary to the people there. “He wrote in his autobiography that at least 12 times his life was in danger; that he was seized on numerous occasions; and that he was held captive” by the druid priests and tribal chiefs! However, the people in general “knew he had returned to them out of compassion, and they eagerly embraced his message.” To help explain that message, Patrick used the clover I mentioned earlier. “He was most well known for using the three-leaf shamrock (or clover) as a symbol of the Trinity, or the three persons of the Godhead.”* He went on to live a life of sacrifice and ministry, and died on March 17, of natural causes.
I love history, because, as others have said, history is His Story, and that’s a story that just never gets old! If you love it, too, check out this curriculum. I have mentioned it here before, because it has been my favorite part of our curriculum for years. (This is not a paid endorsement; I just love it.) You can also find a picture book about St. Patrick through VOM/ Kids of Courage. It tells the story of his kidnapping slightly differently, but that it happened nonetheless.
*All quotes taken from The Mystery of History, Vol. II, The Early Church and the Middle Ages, by Linda Lacour Hobar