The year was 387. The place was Kilpatrick in ancient Scotland. Their names were Calpurnius and Conchessa, Roman citizens living at the edge of the Roman Empire. These young Britons were gifted with a new born son. They named him Maewyn.
Maewyn was a rambunctious, unruly boy who spurned his parents’ instructions and their Christian faith. He romped the Scottish hills with other Brit, Scot, Pict, and Roman boys, and it was on one of these romps that young Maewyn ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A roving band of Irish pirates was plundering the coast of Scotland, and in the process, captured Maewyn and carried them back to Ireland. There Maewyn became a slave. And there, Maewyn’s faith was reborn. He began to talk to God, and as the story goes, God began talking to him.
God instructed Maewyn to wander toward the coast. So he did, secretly, and found a boat bound for Scotland. He returned home and was reunited with his family after many years. Then God spoke again, coming to Maewyn in his dreams. God wanted him to return to Ireland.
Maewyn entered theological training, and at the conclusion of his studies, was sent as the first Christian missionary to Ireland. At his ordination he took the Latin name, Patricius; in Gaelic it was Padraig. In modern English we know him as Saint Patrick.
With Nicholas and Valentine, St. Patrick rounds out the trio of best known Christian saints outside of the Apostles. They are celebrated and venerated by the world – but none more so than St. Patrick. He has found his way into our hearts, and while drinking Guinness or Jameson is part of his appeal, that is hardly the beginning. Patrick, more than most, meets people where they are – and that is his lasting contribution.