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Lent: March 17th

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

MASS READINGS

March 17, 2009 (Readings on USCCB website)

COLLECT PRAYER

God our Father, you sent St. Patrick to preach your glory to the people of Ireland. By the help of his prayers, may all Christians proclaim your love to all men. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Old Calendar: St. Patrick

This day is not all about leprechauns, shamrocks and green beer. This is a day to honor and pray to St. Patrick. He was an influential saint who, 1,500 years ago, brought Christianity to the little country of Ireland. He was born about 385 in the British Isles, was carried off while still very young during a raid on Roman Britain 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; in 444 he founded the metropolitan see of Armagh. St. Patrick died in 461. After fifteen centuries he remains for all Irishmen the great bishop whom they venerate as their father in the Faith.

Stational Church


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.

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The Station for today is in the church of St. Vitalis, martyr, the father of the two illustrious Milanese martyrs, Sts. Gervasius and Protasius. It was built about 400, and consecrated by Pope Innocent I in 401/2. The dedication to St. Vitalis and his family was given in 412. The church has been rebuilt several times, of which the most comprehensive rebuilding was that of Pope Sixtus IV before the 1475 Jubilee. It was then granted to Clerics Regular.