Quick, what denomination is St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland? Anglican, of course. 

Although he was never canonized (declared a saint) by the Roman Catholic Church, St. Patrick was born in England in the fifth century, long before the Church of England and Rome had their differences (ten centuries later). Patrick served as a missionary to Ireland AFTER he had been enslaved by the Irish for six years as a teenager. He became a symbol of sacrificial love for one’s enemies.

After the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, it was Patrick’s monasteries along with those in England that copied and retained ancient manuscripts in Greek, Hebrew, and Coptic. These manuscripts would pave the way for the establishment of European universities in the 13th century and the later movements of the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Had the Irish and English monks not slavishly copied manuscripts they could barely read for seven centuries, our modern civilization would not exist.

In reading about Patrick’s life, you will find very little original source, reliable historical information – a problem not much different than the historicity of the bible. Claims whether he was captured by Irish raiders and enslaved or whether he was escaping service on the local town council are debated. Whether he committed some sort of financial impropriety is also debated. It is generally agreed that he founded many monasteries and converted many people from their pagan-Druid beliefs to Christianity.

I appreciate the fact that historians try to determine the facts of things and that the “real” Patrick may have had some issues here and there. But overall, history judges him by the bulk of the good things he did. We should try to do that for modern people as well.

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