Forgotten Miracles of Saint Patrick

Forgotten Miracles of Saint Patrick

 By Jim Ignasher    

Circa 1910 Post Card of St. Patrick

     It’s been said that everyone’s Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day, celebrated with green beer, green clothing, and corned beef and cabbage.  Everybody knows the day is named for Saint Patrick, a Christian missionary who lived centuries ago and is known for expelling all the snakes from Ireland, but how many know that he had the ability to heal the sick and raise the dead?  Or why he used the Shamrock as a tool to spread Christianity across Ireland?   

     There are numerous miraculous legends attributed to Saint Patrick that were once widely known, but in modern times have fallen into obscurity.  For example, one story relates how a great freshet caused a well in Emptor to overflow with such ferocity that the quickly rising water threatened the lives of those living in the area around it.  Patrick took a piece of bread, and after dipping his finger in the water, made the sign of the cross on it.  Then he uttered a prayer after which the water suddenly stopped gushing forth.   

     Saint Patrick was born in Scotland to Roman parents somewhere around 379 A.D. (Sources vary.) However, Patrick wasn’t his given name, but one he adopted later.  His birth name was Maewyn Succat. 

     One of the earliest miracles to attributed to Patrick occurred at his baptism when a blind man named Gormus arrived after having a dream that Patrick could cure him.  While holding Patrick’s hand, he made the sign of the cross on the ground, and suddenly a spring of fresh water erupted from the earth.  Gormus washed his eyes with the water and his sight was immediately restored. 

     Patrick had been baptized on a large flat rock which came to be used in local disputes as a lie detector.  Anyone who gave false testimony while touching the rock would cause water to trickle forth from it.     

     As a young boy Patrick was charged with watching the family’s flock of sheep.  One day a baby lamb was carried off by a wolf and he was blamed for the loss.  That night he prayed that the lamb be returned, and the following day the wolf brought the lamb back and laid it at Patrick’s feet, unharmed. 

     There was a time when honey was widely used for medicinal purposes, and one instance records that Patrick was able to turn a bowl of water into honey to treat a sick woman.      

     While in his teens Patrick was kidnapped, taken to Ireland, and sold into slavery to a pagan chieftain. After six years in captivity, an angel came to him in a dream and showed him a place where gold was buried.  He retrieved the gold, and some sources say he bought his freedom, others say he escaped, and fled back to Scotland.  In either case, he became a priest and later a bishop, and eventually made his way back to Ireland and began his ministry. 

     While ministering to the pagans, he used the three-leaf Shamrock to illustrate the Christian belief that the Holy Trinity, (The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), are one God in three Devine persons.  Over time he established hundreds of churches and converted thousands to Christianity, and is today one of the three patron saints of Ireland.   

     An ancient relic attributed to Saint Patrick is an iron bell that can be found on display at the National Museum in Dublin, Ireland.  The story behind it relates how Saint Patrick climbed to the top of a mountain now known as Crough Patrick.  There, in imitation of Jesus, he fasted for forty days.  During that time demons came and tormented him, but he stayed true to his faith.  As the evil entities grew more aggressive he prayed to God, and finally drove them off using the bell. 

     It’s recorded that Patrick resurrected the dead at least 33 times. In one case two daughters of the King of Dublin had died, and the King, who’d heard of Patrick’s miraculous abilities, sent for him.  The King promised Patrick that if he could bring the girls back to life he would convert to Christianity.  Patrick took the hands of the girls and appealed to God.  Suddenly the burial chamber was filled with light and the girls rose from death.  The King kept his word and was baptized.      

     Another account speaks of a dying Irish King named Echu who wanted to convert to Christianity.  He sent for Patrick, but died before his arrival.  Patrick brought the king back to life long enough to be baptized and receive Holy Communion, after which the king passed away a second time.      

     There was an incident involving of a powerful magician who interrupted Patrick’s teachings in front of a large crowd of people and blasphemed the Lord.  In the next instant the magician was killed by a bolt of lightning, and all in attendance converted.     

     One day a thief stole a goat that belonged to Patrick and ate it.  When accused, the man denied it, until the sound of a bleating goat was heard coming from the man’s stomach.  Then the beard of a goat suddenly grew upon his face, which some say is where the term “goatee” originated.  

     Of course the best known miracle attributed to Saint Patrick involves the banishment of snakes from Ireland.  The legend goes that he climbed to the top of a mountain overlooking the sea and ordered all the serpents in Ireland to assemble at his feet before he drove them into the water by beating a drum.      

    Patrick died on March 17, circa 493, and it’s said that there was no darkness in Ireland for twelve days after his death.  He’s reportedly buried in the graveyard next to Down Cathedral located in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland.  

     There are those who claim some of the miracles surrounding Saint Patrick are mythical, yet they can’t deny the immense influence he had on the Christian world, the Catholic Faith, and the Country of Ireland.  Today there are thousands of cemeteries and churches worldwide named after him, as well as a special day on the calendar – March 17th.

      Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to one and all, for everyone can celebrate – Irish or not.     

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