From Slavery to Freedom: The Story of St. Patrick for Kids
THEME: He sent me to bring good news to the poor
My name is Patrick, and I grew up in an old Roman settlement in northern Britain. My mum and dad were Christians but I wasn’t really very interested in either church or studying.
But then, when I was about 15, some thing truly awful happened… Some raiders came across from Ireland on a ship and attacked my home and village. They kidnapped me, and dragged me roughly back with them to Ireland.
I was terrified but I tried not to let them see it. I didn’t know whether I should try to escape, but I couldn’t see a chance of getting away. They took me to a trading post, and sold me as a slave. They said I was young and strong, and would get them plenty of gold in return.
The man who bought me was a farmer, and he brought me to a grey and remote hillside, overlooking the sea. I worked for months and months, planting and digging, and carrying stuff, and I felt so tired, tired and alone.
But after a while, I began to talk to the people there, the family I worked for, and their neighbours. They were trying to eek out their existence without much in the way of luxuries. We talked about life, and the purpose of life, and about their pagan religion.
Because, in my own suffering, I had rediscovered my God. He was there in Ireland, in slavery, as he had been all the years of my spoiled and unrecognising childhood. I prayed and prayed, calling out the words of the Psalms in my own tongue, and in Latin, over the bleak but haunting coastline of this new land. I asked for deliverance, and finally, one day, I was delivered. I heard the voice of God telling me that my ship was being prepared and it was time to go home. I managed to escape from my slave-masters and walked for many miles until I reached the sea, and got on a boat home.
Patrick’s story was an amazing example of faith in adversity and of God’s salvation of one far from home and in slavery. But a few years after his return home, the feeling grew in Patrick that he was meant to go back to Ireland again.
And so he returned to Ireland as a missionary bishop, travelling around the country, challenging kings and druids and everywhere telling people about the Christian faith and the freedom Jesus could bring.
There are many stories about Patrick’s life and work in Ireland, although my favourite is the story of how he challenged the high king of Ireland at Tara. It was the spring equinox and the night was supposed to be dark, as the pagans waited for the first fire to be kindled by the chief druid. The whole country was supposed to be without light, waiting. But Patrick, whose Christian calendar said it was Easter morning, lit his own beacon fire on a nearby mountain, proclaiming that Christ was always the light and the hope of all.
Patrick was buried in Down Cathedral in County Down, Ireland.
Patrick encouraged many other Christians to form churches and monasteries across Ireland, and he is loved and remembered today as a symbol of the Irish people wherever they may be in the world.
The Scriptorium is where the Celtic monks used to produce beautiful works of art to share the faith with others by writing and illustrating amazingly coloured and decorated Bibles and books.
This is a beautiful translation of Patrick’s Breastplate, or prayer for protection. Pick a line you like from this, and use some calligraphy pens to make and illustrate a bookmark to remind you of God’s love in the future.
I arise today
through strength in the sky:
light of sun moon’s reflection
dazzle of fire
speed of lightning
wild wind deep
earth hard rock.
I arise today
with God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me
God’s wisdom to guide me
God’s eyes to look ahead for me
God’s ear to hear me
God’s word to speak for me
God’s hand to defend me
God’s way to lie before me
God’s shield to protect me
God’s host to safeguard me.
St Patrick’s Breastplate (translated by John Skinner)
(used by John O’Donoughue)
By Sonya Britton