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Lent: March 17th

Optional Memorial of St. Patrick, bishop and confessor (Solemnity Aus, Ire, Feast Scot, Wales)

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Old Calendar: St. Patrick

"Follow me, says the Lord, and I will make you into fishers of men." (Mk1:17) St. Patrick, who was born about 385 in the British Isles, was carried off while still very young during a raid on England by the Irish and sold as a slave. At the end of six years he contrived to escape to Europe, became a monk and was ordained; he then returned to Ireland to preach the Gospel. During the thirty years that his missionary labors continued he covered the Island with churches and monasteries.

Today in Ireland and Australia the Church celebrates St. Patrick's day as a Solemnity. It is observed as a Feast in Scotland and Wales.

The Station, at Rome, is in the church of St. Xystus on the Appian Road. It now goes under the name of St. Xystus the Old, in order to distinguish it from another church that is dedicated to the same holy Pope and Martyr.

St. Patrick
Not many facts are known about the life of St. Patrick. We know that he was born around 415 AD, and was a Roman Briton. When he was about 16, while he was tending his sheep some Irish raiders captured him and made him a slave. He eventually was able to escape and return to Britain. There he heard the call to return and bring Christianity to Ireland. He was ordained a priest, consecrated a bishop and came back to Ireland around 435 AD. Many legends are associated around St. Patrick: how he drove the snakes out of Ireland, and the use of the shamrock to teach the mystery of the Trinity. Whether or not the legends are true, St. Patrick succeeded in bringing Catholicism to Ireland, and in time, the whole country converted from their pagan gods to the one true God.

Although a small country, Ireland has played a large role in saving and bringing Christianity throughout the world. During the early Dark Ages, the Irish monasteries preserved Western writings while Europe remained in darkness. But as the Catholic country remained solidly Catholic, the Irish spread the faith to all corners of the world. To learn more on this subject, read Thomas Cahill's How the Irish Saved Civilization.

We have a few works attributed to St. Patrick, one being his autobiography called Confessions. It is a short summary of the events in his life, written in true humility. Below is a short excerpt:

I am greatly God's debtor, because he granted me so much grace, that through me many people would be reborn in God, and soon after confirmed, and that clergy would be ordained everywhere for them, the masses lately come to belief, whom the Lord drew from the ends of the earth, just as he once promised through his prophets: "To you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Our fathers have inherited naught hut lies, worthless things in which there is no profit." And again: "I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles that you may bring salvation to the uttermost ends of the earth."

Patron: Ireland; against snakes; against ophidiophobia; archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts; diocese of Burlington, Vermont; engineers; excluded people; fear of snakes; diocese of Fort Worth, Texas; diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; archdiocese of New York; Nigeria; diocese of Norwich, Connecticut; ophidiophobics; diocese of Portland, Maine; diocese of Sacramento, California; snake bites.

Symbols: A bishop trampling on snakes; bishop driving snakes away; shamrock; snakes; cross; harp; demons; baptismal font.

Things to Do:

The Station today is in St. Lawrence's in Damaso—a church built by Pope St. Damascus in honor of the martyred deacon. It was one of the first parish churches in Rome and was rebuilt in the late 15th century by Bramante, and has since been restored several times. Pope St. Damasus' relics are beneath the altar. Today the church is part of the Cancelleria, or the chancery, and houses the Holy Father's Tribunals: the Roman Rota, Apostolic Signatura, and Apostolic Penitentiary.

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