16 March, 2007

Saint Patrick: Presbyterian Father of Ireland

The Celtic Church fought for many years to maintain the rule of Saint Patrick against the pressures of Rome. It was not until c. 900 that Rome finally won over the hearts of the Celtic people, thus taking the ideals of Saint Patrick under the authority of a bishop that Patrick never gave homage to. Patrick is to be commemorated by Protestants as the Evangelist to Ireland. The Lord used Patrick mightily for his honor and Ireland's good.

Thus I give untiring thanks to God who kept me faithful in the day of my temptation, so that today I may confidently offer my soul as a living sacrifice for Christ my Lord; who am I, Lord? or, rather, what is my calling? that you appeared to me in so great a divine quality, so that today among the barbarians I might constantly exalt and magnify your name in whatever place I should be, and not only in good fortune, but even in affliction? So that whatever befalls me, be it good or bad, I should accept it equally, and give thanks always to God who revealed to me that I might trust in him, implicitly and forever,and who will encourage me so that, ignorant, and in the last days, I may dare to undertake so devout and so wonderful a work; so that I might imitate one of those whom, once, long ago, the Lord already pre-ordained to be heralds of his Gospel to witness to all peoples to the ends of the earth. So are we seeing, and so it is fulfilled; behold, we are witnesses because the Gospel has been preached as far as the places beyond which no man lives. -Saint Patrick

Read the Confessio of Saint Patrick here.


Saint of Not Celebrating Saint's Days said...

I love how many Christians tend to celebrate St. Valentine's Day and then go on to run from the idea of ever celebrating St. Patrick's Day. Pagan Catholic holiday! Gasp! ;0)

Nate said...

I think that the church needs to regain the term saint. Saint Patrick was a great man and his life is well documented as being an Evangelical Christian.

Mark said...

Agreed about taking back the term saint. It's quite Biblical, after all.

Gotta love St. Patrick's day, too. We should set up a St. Knox day for Scotland...

Daniel Ritchie said...

Good post, an as Irishman I really appreciate it.

Lydia--Kiss Me I'm Irish said...

Yeah for the Irish! Did you know I'm Irish, Nathan?

Eiriin Go Brach!

Notliberal said...

Patrick was a great man, though I am in no way in favor of attaching the name Saint on to anyones name, that is unless we are to call every member of the church Saint whatever their name is. I also oppose the idea of celebrating days for certain historically great Christian men, such is papal in nature and not to be found in scripture. That said, as a protest against the Papacy and the horrible Northern Ireland Papal goons, I'll be wearing Protestant orange tomorrow.

It means Ireland Forever... said...

Oh, I meant Eirinn...

Nate said...

NL- I will be in orange as well.

Saint is for all saints, but it has become customary to attach it to certain men. We bow to custom, but explain what we DO NOT mean.

As for papal holidays, did you get Janna anything for Saint Valentine's Day? ;)

I too oppose Saint's Days.

We must know that Patrick is on our team, do NOT let people tell you different!

Lyd said...

Why wear orange and acknowledge the day at all? Just act like it is any other day besides the fact that a bunch of Catholics and/or Irish and others will be getting drunk on green beer?

Nate said...

Presbyterians have worn orange since 1690 on St. Patrick's Day. That was the year that William of Orange defeated catholic troops who were imposing prelacy on the British Isles.

Lydia said...

Oh, I see.

Soooo, the wearing of orange has nothing to do with St. Patrick's Day? Like opposing the green-wearing Catholics? Seems to me those that tend to wear orange think they are rebelling against the green-wearing Catholics. ??? So, it is just a general unproductive protest against the Catholics? Whatever your fancy, I guess.

I guess I just am missing the point. Oh well.

Orangeman said...


Scotland and Brittania (Roman empire talk) claim Patrick. Remember that he was not Irish- he was a missionary to them. Maybe he was Dutch! VanPatricksma

Banjo Pickin' Presbyterian said...

On another note, TOTALLY off topic...kind of:

The term 'hill billy' refers to the Presbyterians who moved into the hills of the Apalachians. The billy part was showing their loyalty to William of Orange. Hence Hill Billy.

It is quite a great term really.

Mark said...

Yeah, but if we had a Knox day, we could spend it drinking Bloody Marys. Though I do like the idea of Patrick being Dutch...

Notliberal said...

I got my wife nothing for Valentines day, we didn't celebrate the day at all as I recall.

The wearing of orange has become more important during recent decades as anti-Protestant Papists have been causing trouble in Northern Ireland. The wearing of orange is as much showing solidarity with them as it is a recognition of St. Patrick's Day.

While the attaching of the term Saint to certain names is customary, is it scriptural?

Nate said...

Is calling people saints scriptural? Yes.

Saint Paul did it all the time.

Rob Somers said...

I take it you are writing tongue in cheek, Nate. There is a vast difference between ἅγιοι and Rome's idea of a saint.

In the sense that Paul used the term, I have no problem at all with it. God is the one who did the work of making us holy. Who are we to argue with this status?

Nate said...

Yep. Rome has hijacked a lot of biblical terms- so have many cults. That does not mean that we should avoid the usage.

Saint Patrick falls under the biblical definition of saint.

shawn said...

I don't recall the term "saint" being used as a particular title for anyone in the Scriptures. It was only made a title, by the heretical doctrine of Rome.

No one went around calling Patrick, "Saint Patrick".

That being said, it appears that Christ's words might apply to this from Matt 23:7-12, where Christ deals with the abuse of titles and meanings, as opposed to be strictly against the title itself.

In general I would want to see where the title "Saint" was ever intended to be used as a particular proper title for particular people.

Nate said...

I am not saying that it was applied as a title. Saint was used to describe their legal status before God.

That being said, Saint Patrick has become the customary name for this Patrick.

If I, in an attempt to avoid the papal title, say, "I am reading Patrick right now."

Someone would say, "Patrick who?"

Then I would have to say, "Saint Patrick."

Thus defeating the reason for avoiding the title AND wasting words.

On another note, The Reformers and the Puritans used the title Saint when it was customary. (Not that the Puritans and the Reformers are the end-all-be-all; but they did not throw out the saintly baby with the romish bathwater.

Robbie said...

a quick note-
Protestants wear Orange, Catholics wear Green and Presbyterians wear Blue - that was the Iro-Christian tradition and presbyterians did so to distinguish themselves from the church of England and other Protestant groups in that era of history.

For my Medieval Europe class we studied the Iro Christian era and her conflict with the Latin Christianity of that day before it became the high Roman Catholic Church. It is amazing to see how the high church government clashed with the monastic life that Patrick stressed. You really get the picture that Latin Christianity was the pharisee ordained and ornated while the Iro Christian was the dirty peasant the Pharisee detested. While the Latin church di not have a official missions till Benedict- Iro Christians had missions since her earliest days.

I love being Irish

Nate said...


Thanks for that input. I have been reading some on the Irish Covenaters at Ulster. I guess that they were not as happy with William of Orange as the mainline Presbyterians were. The Covenanters lost out on a lot and never believed in the religious tollerationism that William promoted.

I stand to be corrected with the blue. Is this still done? Is it just Covenanters that wear blue, or do ALL Presbyterians wear blue.

Tell your mom happy Presbyter Patrick day for me!

Robbie said...

As I understand it the OPC promotes wearing blue on St. Patty's (know from Jen's pastor informing me of that point)

It makes sense why the Covenanters and Scottish Presbyterians did not favor William's reforms, as he was dutch in his thinking :-p I am not a person who believes that the dutch are wrong at all, I honestly love the experiential aspect to the Heidelberg. But the Dutch went a different route than the Scottish did (hence Kyperian Political theology vs. National Confessionalism and Political Dissent). I trust you get my point.

I would have to look at my notes and textbooks again to why the Scottish Presbyterians imigrated to Ulster - i suspect it was due to Mary and others. But the Presbyterians were influential in that area after Orange, and led protests to the Orangemen's marches on July 12th.

What gets me, and I was talking to my professor about this the other day, is that the Catholic church exterminated Iro Christianity from Continental Europe, then they later turn around and adopt it as a holiday... sounds kinda ironic, but those Latin boys knew how to get on the good graces of people to get them to accept their episcopates..

now here is the true question... why did the Puritans want to celebrate Guy Fox day? I will get you the source soon. :-)

shawn said...

Tell your mom happy Presbyter Patrick day for me!

1) LOLOL! thats great! Love the title.

2) You have a point, Nate. The Puritans did use the title, "Saint". Most likely because of their cultural context. I guess I don't have a problem refering to him as "Saint Patrick" for the sake of the historical context.

3) I still cannot approbate feast days of saints... maybe it's reactionary, being once geatly deceived by the Romish Church..., Wait. Nope, its due to the large Protestation and Testimony against feast days of saints! What a stupid tradition.

4) However, I could promote days of thanksgiving and rememberance for great contendings and testimony-breaing in Church History, but not for the name or reputation of one man.

Andrew Duggan said...

What color do you think Paul would wear if his goal was to preach the gospel? Didn't he advocate something along the lines where being Irish to the Irish would be OK? There may be many who need the gospel more than the masses of the Irish Republic, but they still need it -- don't they?

Maybe the Reformation would have taken hold in Ireland if it hadn't been "imposed" on them with English imperialism? The question that has always made me wonder is:

Why did the Presbyterians of Ulster who where there exiled by the same English imperialists that subjugated the Irish on the rest of the island so steadfastly side with their English masters?

I think the Stockholm Syndrome is misnamed, it think it should be called the Scot-Irish Presbyterian Syndrome.

Echo_ohcE said...

I am OPC. I really like St Patrick. I almost did a paper on him recently.

But I think calling him a presbyterian is...a bit anachronistic. What I mean is, no one was really presbyterian in those days. I mean, of course the apostles were, and Acts 15 was the first General Assembly, but soon after that, bishops became the rule.

It's easy to understand how it happened. The church was spreading in a big way. One church would plant several daughter churches in the surrounding area. Well, of course the pastor of the original "mother" church of all the "daughter" churches would have a bit more prestige. It would be a more mature church, and thus a more mature pastor. The younger, less experienced pastors would look to him for guidance. Presto! You get bishops. The Roman mindset, furthermore, was very fertile ground for this sort of thing. They simply thought in heirarchical terms. This also gave rise to the veneration of saints and the use of relics later on, so this is all related.

So there really weren't any true presbyterians from about the early to mid second century on, until about the Reformation.

Now it is true that Patrick was probably ordained in Gaul (a region that had no love for the Pope or even the Latin church, but felt closer ties to the Eastern Greek church), and so probably set up a church in Ireland that was independent of Rome, and possibly even anti-Roman. But that doesn't make him a presbyterian, at least not in a way that we would think of it.

However, the Roman Church is undoubtedly lying about history and trying to cover up for their errors.

For you see, the Roman Pope at the time of Patrick was a Pelagian, and he sent a Pelagian missionary to Ireland in 431, whose name was...I can't remember. Something very close to Patrick, and even closer to Patricus, but neither one of those. ANYWAY, this Pelagian missionary came to Ireland and was chased off the island within a year. Some say Patrick showed up a year later, some say 30 years later, but whatever the case, the Roman church blends these two men together to say that Patrick was sent and approved by the Pope. That way, the Romans can confuse the Irish people into thinking that the Roman church is their mother. In reality, the Gaulish church was their mother most likely, according to the evidence, even though that is not totally certain.

And in any event, Patrick was raised in England, where there never really was any genuine devotion to the Pope. And Gaul too is the same in that regard.

So presbyterian, no, but neither is he a papist lapdog.

If you have credible evidence of Patrick being a strict presbyterian, I'd be interested to see it. But he need not be perfectly presbyterian to be part of our heritage.