March 17, the Feast Day of St. Patrick, is good time to wear green, celebrate the coming of spring, and maybe hope for ;good luck in the form of a four-leaf clover. Traditions are fun, but like any holiday, it’s important to discover why we have it in the first place.
Who Is St. Patrick?
Actually, first, what’s a saint? You might hear people say, “Oh, she’s a saint” if they’ve done something wonderfully kind. Or you may have heard of “official” saints, like St. Francis or St. Thérèse. Basically, a saint is a person who clearly followed Jesus or seemed Christ-like. And Patrick was a saint because he acted like Jesus.
We talk a lot about all kinds of people in the Bible who act like Jesus. What’s cool about St. Patrick is that he reminds us that all of us—not just people in the Bible—can follow Jesus in BIG ways.
We don’t actually know exactly where or when Patrick was born. But when we he was young, he was kidnapped and forced to work as a slave, herding sheep and pigs in Ireland. He wondered why his life was so hard, so he prayed about it.
Here’s where the story takes an interesting turn: Patrick escaped back to his family. But then he had a dream. In it, God told him that one day, he would have to go back to Ireland, this time as a priest.
Why We Celebrate
Patrick obeyed. (That’s one reason we call him a saint.) He went to France and, for twelve years, he studied to become a priest. He then went back to the place where he spent the worst time of his life: Ireland. He spent the rest of his life as a missionary in Ireland, telling people there about Jesus. He died on March 17, which is now St. Patrick’s Day.
It’s a good day to wear green and to think about leprechauns. But it’s a really good day to remember that a guy named Patrick acted like Jesus. We can, too.
Questions to Ponder
Why do you think St. Patrick obeyed God?
What’s one way you can act like Jesus today?
Can you think of a new fun way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day based on this story?
Laurel Brunk is a fan of helping families develop meaningful relationships with one another and God.