St. Patrick and Ireland

We all observe and more so each day that this country of Ireland has lost its way. People are confused with the constant revelations of wickedness that prevails in the Roman Catholic Church. Where is the holiness? What is the TRUTH? Consequently many are turning away from "the church" to other false religions such as New Age and other eastern cults.

This country wasn’t always like this. Following the death of St. Patrick, Ireland became known as "the land of saints and scholars". Ireland once was a thriving centre of Bible Christianity, a light to all of Europe where many came from far away lands to learn the Word of God - the Bible.

So what has gone wrong, why are most people spiritually lost? i.e. not knowing where they came from or where they are at this time and don’t know where they are going when they die. The disciples of St. Patrick knew they were "saved" and without doubt, heaven bound, as Patrick puts it himself,


"I am firmly convinced that if this should happen to me, I would have gained my soul together with my body, because on that day without doubt we shall rise in the brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as sons of the living God and joint heirs with Christ, to be made conformable to His image; for of Him, and by Him, and in Him we shall reign."


So Patrick knew he was going to heaven when he died. He got this from the Word of God, the Bible, for in it is Gods sure plan of Salvation by which we can know how to be saved. (1 John 5:12,13)

This is what the people of this country need, not a system to Romanise its citizens, which can only lead to hell, but to convert sinners by the true Gospel of Jesus Christ which leads to heaven.

Its time to go back to first principals and start again and examine the pure form of Christianity that St. Patrick brought to this country.


Who was St. Patrick?

St Patrick (A.D. 389 - 465) was the son of a church minister and the grandson of a pastor. He was born in Scotland near a village called Bannavem Tabernia, which is now called Dumbarton.

He was carried away from Scotland to Belfast when he was sixteen years old by a band of marauding Picts (or Celts). For six years as a slave he was a shepherd minding sheep on hillsides. It was on these lonely hillsides that he turned to God, it was here that he remembered the Bible words of salvation that he had had previously heard from his youth but had neglected. As a slave he repented of his sinful life and called upon the Lord Jesus Christ to save him. In his Confessions he wrote,

“At 16 ... in a strange land the Lord opened my unbelieving eyes and I was converted.”

It was in Ireland Patrick found God and was saved from the punishment of hell to receive a new eternal life in Christ whom he dearly loved and gave his life to tell others with obedience and zeal that they would be saved also.

He escaped from Ireland and sailed to England where he again was in captivity as slave for a while.

Upon receiving a commission (in a vision) to evangelise Ireland Patrick laboured in Ireland for about fifty three years turning thousands from their pagan religion, which was predominantly druidism, to Christ. Patrick speaks of Baptising thousands of grown men and is credited for starting hundreds of local assemblies.

Patrick's only reason for coming to Ireland was to preach the Gospel to its lost people.

"I testify in truth and in joy of heart before God and His holy angels that I never had any reason except the Gospel and its promises why I should ever return to the people from whom once before I barely escaped."

Patrick, a meek and lowly man with a humble and contrite heart, knew the Lord Jesus and truly believed the Bible. Because of this simple faith in Gods plan of salvation, Patrick is now in heaven, saved for all eternity. The message he once preached is still as new today as it was then in his day.

This message was the gospel of Salvation, which is in Jesus Christ.


What was the message of St. Patrick?

In both his letters Patrick begins with the words,

"I am Patrick, a sinner, most unlearned"

but being filled with the Holy Spirit God enabled him to achieve the impossible, i.e. the salvation of Ireland. When Patrick spoke, he was so well versed in the Bible that almost every sentence out of his mouth was formed from some part of scripture.

Although Patrick came from a Christian family he was not always a Christian as he says in his letter;

" And there the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and be converted with all my heart to the Lord my God".

What is it that brought about Patrick's conversion?

It was because Patrick realised he was a sinner and knew the punishment on sin, which is eternal hell fire. He needed complete forgiveness!

This is simply Gods plan of salvation or which the scripture directs in the book of Acts 20:21

"…repentance towards God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ"

 Like Patrick we are all sinners without exception (Romans 3:23) before a holy and righteous God and we need to repent of our sinful lives and by faith call upon the Lord Jesus Christ to save us. (Luke 13:5, Acts 20:21)

God has put a punishment on sin, which is death and hell, but the good news is that Jesus Christ has paid the full price, he has taken the full punishment for our sin on the cross 2000 years ago. Now as a lost sinner, if you will repent with all your heart and cry out to Him with all your heart to save you, He will. Romans 10:13)


Security of Salvation

Not only can you be saved but also you can know it without a doubt!

 As Patrick says it, "

" And if ever I have done any good for my God whom I love, I beg Him to grant me that I may shed my blood with those exiles and captives for His name, even though I should be denied a grave, or my body be woefully torn to pieces limb by limb by hounds or wild beasts, or the fowls of the air devour it. I am firmly convinced that if this should happen to me, I would have gained my soul together with my body, because on that day without doubt we shall rise in the brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as sons of the living God and joint heirs with Christ, to be made conformable to His image; for of Him, and by Him, and in Him we shall reign."


Salvation is not earned, it is a free gift from God!

Patrick writes of it…

"In the light, therefore, of our faith in the Trinity I must make this choice, regardless of danger I must make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, without fear and frankly I must spread everywhere the name of God so that after my decease I may leave a bequest to my brethren and sons whom I have baptised in the Lord --- so many thousands of people.


And again……..

" I must not, however, hide God’s gift which He bestowed upon me in the land of my captivity; because then I earnestly sought Him, and there I found Him, and He saved me from all evil because --- so I believe --- of His Spirit that dwelleth in me"

When and how did Ireland become Romanised?


Patrick clearly was a Bible believer and the Christianity Patrick brought into Ireland was not Roman Catholic as we know it today. He recognised only the scriptures as the final authority in matters of faith and practice. Patrick came from a Bible believing church in Scotland. In fact Roman Catholicism did not prevail in Ireland until around the year 1155, i.e. over 700 years later when Pope Adrian IV took Ireland by force, having authorised King Henry II to invade Ireland. Ireland has a great history as a missionary nation and up to this period sent out missionaries to convert sinners in Scotland, north Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland and north Italy. In fact when the rest of Europe was in darkness under Roman rule, Ireland remained a light of the glorious gospel of Christ and became the centre for learning of the scriptures instructing students from all over Europe and further a field.

Church history

- How Ireland changed since  How Ireland changed since the time of Patrick

Invasion by the Danes

In the eighth century the Irish held so high a character for learning, that the literary men invited by Charlemagne to his court were chiefly from Ireland. But the invasion of the Danes about the beginning of the ninth century, and their occupation of the country, quenched this light. These piratical and predatory hordes wasted her fields, slew her sons, or dispossessed them of their inheritance, demolished her colleges, and maintained themselves in the country with the cruelty and arrogance of usurpers. Moral, spiritual, and literary darkness followed. All that was left were the memories and legends of the great saints.

Pope Adrian IV

As the years passed, the raiders were christianised and communications between the continent and Ireland were opened again. Sadly, the Christianity being introduced then was very different from that which Patrick had earlier brought. The simpler, genuine faith was overlaid with superstition and fables, growing eventually to full medievalism.

Malachy, Bishop of Armagh (1134-1148) was one of the first Irish Bishops to gain legatine powers from a Pope. He worked hard to make the Celtic Church Roman. At a Synod held at Kells (1152) under papal legate Johannes Paparo, further steps were taken to enforce conformity to Roman usage. Four Archbishoprics (Armagh, Cashel, Tuam and Dublin) were introduced and the bishops wore the pallium, a sign of submission to the See of Rome.

However, this was not enough and around 1155 the (English) Pope Adrian IV authorized King Henry II to invade Ireland “to proclaim the truths of the Christian religion to a rude and ignorant people” ; on condition that a penny should be yearly paid from each house to the See of Rome. The Pope based his right to Ireland thus:

“For it is undeniable, and your majesty acknowledges it, that all islands on which Christ the sun of righteousness hath shined, and which have received the Christian faith, belong of right to St. Peter and the most holy Roman church.” (Laudabiliter)

King Henry II (1154-89)

In 1166 Diarmat MacMurrough, deposed king of Leinster, decided that he needed outside assistance in order to defeat his enemies, High King Ruairi O’Conor of Connacht and O’Rourke of Breiffne. He went to Henry II, king of England, and obtained a band of Norman lords (with Strongbow as leader) in pursuit of wealth and adventure to assist him.

The synod of Cashel (1172)

Late 1171 Henry joined and completed this conquest of the country. In Cashel an assembly of the Irish clergy, presided over by Christianus, bishop of Lismore and papal legate, proclaimed Henry’s title to the sovereign dominion of Ireland, and took the oath of fidelity to himself and his successors. The decrees issued at the synod of Cashel mark the end of the (independent) Celtic Church and the final alignment with the Church of Rome. The native liturgies were abandoned, and the liturgy of the English Church was adopted. The hierarchy did not regret the change. Under the ancient system, the native chieftains were absolute master over all their followers, including the clergy. A new order was introduced by Henry II, and the local authorities had no longer authority over the clergy. To maintain his sovereignty over the Irish clergy, the English Kings filled up the vacant sees mostly with Englishmen. The Irish clergy, meanwhile appealed to Rome to decide the question, or rather, to confirm their nomination. Jealousy, hostility and disputes characterised the relations between the English and the Irish ecclesiastics; the latter sought to transfer their allegiance as churchmen from the sovereign of England to the pope of Rome, so that the struggle for supremacy lasted for centuries.

The changes were however not practised immediately. The people continued for a while to marry outside the Church, they still refused to pay tithes. Clergy still married: in 1224 a son of Bishop O’Mullover, designed for the Episcopal dignity, was killed. 

Here's the Bottom Line

As a sinner, you will face the wrath of your Creator unless someone perfect, and sinless takes your place. The only person who could take your place was Jesus, the Son of God!

He never meant for you to go through life not knowing where you will spend eternity! Think about it - your sins held Jesus to that cross. You couldn't begin to name them all. And if you want to try and pay for them all, it would take an eternity in hell. You cannot pay for your sins yourself, that is why Christ had to die for you!

There is no other way but through Jesus Christ for the Lord says,

" I am the way the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the father but by me." (John 14:6)

 This is the same plan of salvation that Patrick knew.

Gods Plan of Salvation

1. You must Repent. That means hate your sins - all of them, and agree with God you deserve hell. “God … commandeth all men every where to repent” Acts 17:30. Hate not only your sins, but also your goodness, and good works, because you can never be good enough to earn God’s perfect GIFT of heaven. It has to be free!

2. You must believe Jesus Christ is all you need to be saved from hell. Jesus said, “I am the way… no man cometh unto the father, but by me” John 14:6. You can’t get to God through your church, your priest, or good works.

3. You then can FREELY accept the gift of salvation - eternal life comes only from Jesus Himself. "The gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Jesus died to give you the forgiveness of your sins. Talk to Him in prayer right now, and accept the forgiveness that He offers you for ALL your sins. "The blood of Jesus Christ God's Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Jesus alone is your ticket home to heaven!

Cry out to God right now. Ask Him to have mercy on you, and save your soul. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13). It is that simple! Don't be so proud you would miss this opportunity. Hell is full of good people who were too proud to do what needed to be done, right away!


Any questions? Need more help?

Want a free New Testament or Bible Study? Contact:

Bible Baptist Church of Ballincollig

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