Saint Patrick: Green Beer Has Nothing To Do With Him

Contrary to popular belief, Saint Patrick’s Day wasn’t founded on creepy leprechauns, cheesy parades, and nasty green beer. The day also originally had nothing to do with getting so incomprehensibly slobber-knocked that even Irish cuisine begins to taste good (Crubeens? Black Pudding?!). Saint Patrick’s Day was actually founded on a real Christian missionary who wasn’t even Irish.

Though much of the life of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, has been mythologized, there are a couple solid historical sources that remain about the fifth century saint.

At the ripe young age of sixteen, Patrick was abducted by Irish raiders from his home of Britain and sold as a slave.  After six years of subjection as a slave herdsmen the young Patrick escaped and returned to the Motherland. But he returned to his aristocratic family a changed man. In his Irish enslavement he had found freedom in the

He probably wasn't really a "Snake Whisperer"

renewed faith of his childhood Christianity. And this calling of God wouldn’t keep him away from the hilly Irish countryside for long.

One passage in his work Confessio, St. Patrick’s spiritual autobiography, tells of a dream after his return to Britain, in which he was delivered a letter headed “The Voice of the Irish.” As he read it, he seemed to hear a certain company of Irish beseeching him to walk once more among them.

“Deeply moved,” he wrote, “I could read no more.”

Being relatively uneducated did not stop him from answering the call and after a short study stint he was ordained by Saint Germanus the Bishop Auxerre. Once he found himself on Irish shores he traveled extensively, zealously preached the gospel, and baptized peasants and political leaders into the Kingdom.

Preaching the gospel in a country steeped in pagan and Druid religion, Patrick was in constant endangerment of martyrdom with local kings, lawgivers and commoners. On top of this, Ecclesiastical powers back in Britain doubted his motives and charged him with seeking ministry “office for the sake of office.”  Despite this, he would many times gain favor with local leaders by bearing gifts, and always refusing gifts in return. For roughly 40 years of traveling poverty he preached incessantly to every Irish ear that would hear him, to the point Catholic history credits St. Patrick with “converting all of Ireland.”

Despite these ministry successes he was a humble man who died in relative obscurity. His autobiography, Confessio, is considered by many to be the most honest soul bearing account of any religious diarist, save St. Augustine. Patrician scholar, D.A. Binchy, has said, “The moral and spiritual greatness of the man shines through every stumbling sentence of his rustic’ Latin.”

So the next time you’re compelled to wear green, eat corn beef and cabbage, or watch the cult classic “The Leprechaun”,

stop and think about this humble bold saint.

Are you relatively uneducated?

Do you have a tragic and abusive past?

Does your speaking or writing have a “stumbling” quality about it?

Do those in high places doubt your calling?

So what.

God wants to turn the eternal destinies of nations and He desires do it with the most humble broken means at His expense. When there is nothing to boast of human ingenuity and power, that is how God will get the most glory.

“God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.” (1 Cor 1:27)

He sovereignly did it in Saint Patrick’s life.

He can do it in ours.

Bryan Daniels

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Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

60 thoughts on “Saint Patrick: Green Beer Has Nothing To Do With Him”

  1. I always feel sorry for poor St. Patrick on this day. Think about it. He’s a Saint who gave his life to God and he’s used as a reason to get wasted by drinking green beer. I’m sure that wasn’t his plan. Go ahead and have the beer. Just leave St. Patrick out of it. Celebrate him by doing something Godly, instead of getting loaded, which is considered a sin in the Bible….maybe….just sayin

    1. …and if you must have a beer to honor St. Patrick, drink in moderation and make it a Guinness or Murphy’s Stout. green beer is just gross.

    2. I totally agree with you. “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit…” (see: http://www.biblegateway.com for ref.. Hope I quoted the verse correctly). Also, there are many Northern Irish Protestants who don’t celebrate this day because over there it’s associated with “Irish Republicanism” (those who wish to take over the Ulster counties who voted to remain in the UK and who have a separate history, culture and religion from the Irish Catholics in the South). See http://www.twittter.com/kilsally for more info. on this.

  2. Amen. The world will paganize anything and its unfortunate that much of the church accepts the world’s celebration without question, while glossing over something that glorifies our God. I hope you don’t mind me reblogging this post.

    Grace and peace

      1. You’re welcome. But, I am a woman. Lee is my middle name. Check out my website: http://www.CatholicNotions.com I compose piano concertos, since age 43. Who says an old dog can’t learn new tricks! Taught myself in front of the Blesssed Sacrament at Saint What-cha-call-it. I used to work at Saint What-cha-ma-call-it. Pissed them off when I was fired…….God weighed in on my side, big time! God and I had the last laugh. Although, I’m still very poor, I make up for it in attitude, some days, when I’m feeling better. Some days, I’m as sick as a dog. Disabled by my own stupidity. Your articles were the best that I read today. Keep it up!

          1. Thank you kind sir. Yep. I’ve had bronchitis since St Blaze’s Feast Day. Or it could be allergies. Thanks for the prayers and shot in the arm.

  3. Beautifully written. Tomorrow I’ll probably watch the parade on TV. The last three years I’ve had the privilege of seeing it in person because it passed by my workplace. No I don’t drink green beer or eat corn beef and cabbage but I do enjoy the spirit of the parade and the marchers as well as their ethnic pride. I’m glad I live in a city and a world where I can learn more about other cultures and traditions. Your blog has taught me more about St. Patrick than I ever knew. Top of the Morning to You!!

  4. Reblogged this on bereanpost and commented:
    The truth about the way saint patrick’s day is observed today has nothing to do with the truth behind st. Patrick. This article from “Cheif of the least” will hopefully give you a new and right perspective on this day, while bringing focus back to God and take it off of green beer.

  5. Reblogged this on New Life and commented:
    Did you ever wonder what St. Patrick’s Day is really all about? Check out this great blog by “Chief of the Least”…

  6. I love St. Patrick’s story. It’s inspiring and humbling. And I loved your article, especially the end questions and quote of 1 Corinthians 1:27. Motivated to move forward in spite of stumbling speech and crazy, ‘fraidy cat fear. Thanks Bryan. Shelley

  7. As an ‘ex-Romans 8:28 basher’, sometimes it’s hard to believe God can work His good out of terrible things, but St, Patrick’s enslavement was eventually used for the good of all of Ireland (of course, he had an available heart & courage & heaps of faith to Go Back!) … So often we endure, but don’t let God use our suffering for His Glory …just saying!

    Thanx for your amazing blog! grace, peace & cheers : )

  8. Well told! I annually suggest to people that if they’d like to do something meaningful to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, they should find a local church or organization that’s helping survivors of human trafficking and give of their time, talent, and treasure. It just seems more appropriate than getting smashed on nasty beer 😉

  9. Thanks for this post. I am 1/4 Irish but never liked the “pagan traditions” of St. Patrick’s Day. Now I will always look to what God was doing in his life and how many people he affected for the Lord.
    Blessings,
    Jan

  10. Sharing on FB! As for my plans for the day, none of it involves green beer… maybe some green cookies at the “Over 80 Party” at the retirement center we are throwing for the elderly in our church (it’s actually a going away party for one of our members, but we had to name it something else because she wouldn’t allow a going away party. She’s moving to California with her son.)

    Other than that, finishing my sermon on another saint: John the Baptist.

  11. A great tribute to the fact that God can do anything if we are willing and humble. The fact that the world sees meekness as weakness is a huge stumbling block. It’s nice to learn something new! Thanks, Bryan, for the informative post. Sandy

  12. Loved this! Thanks for the history lesson and the reminder of His great promise to use us and all of our weakness! Thankful to know He uses our stumbling in great and mighty ways! Blessings!

  13. Excellent piece Chief! This is a teaching moment for me.

    Thank a million for sharing. God bless

  14. Wow that is so powerful! It is funny because while I was driving with my mom on the road we became curious who Sain Patrick actually was and was surprised to learn that he was a great man of God! It is very sad how the world cheapens such great men, but there are people like you that help spread the word around!

  15. That’s why I can’t stand most of our celebrated holidays…if it’s not a “Christian” spin on a pagan celebration, it’s a pagan spin on the celebration of a righteous man’s life. That’s why I feel the desire to celebrate the feasts of our forefathers…The Feast of Tabernacles, The Feast of Trumpets, The Feast of Unleavened Bread, Passover, The Day of Atonement, etc. You never hear about those feasts being corrupted or taken out of context…they are God ordained! They have nothing to do with the pagans and thus they have no say in how they are celebrated.

  16. Wow! I’ve just been sent to your blog tonight and have been reading through some of your posts for hours – and I am feeling so encouraged and inspired, so thank you so much!

    I chose to comment on this article specifically because it’s such a good point I was struggling with this weekend. I could not agree with you more – I grew up in Northern Ireland and most of my childhood religious education was based around the Irish saints and their devotion to God… Coming wholeheartedly to Christ years later I am so inspired by the stories I remember being taught as a kid. I can’t imagine any worse way to celebrate the lives of missionaries like these, who followed and loved God with all their hearts and who spent their lives leading people to God and away from sin… I’m currently at university and seeing St. Patrick’s Day celebrations here absolutely broke my heart, because I don’t think that the best way to honour a missionary is by getting hammered and fighting, which is unfortunately what happens here (mind you, this is in England so it’s still a lot better than what goes on in Belfast each St. Paddy’s…).

    Have to say, though, I’ve never heard of green beer before. Kinda wish I’d missed that bit, haha!

    God bless!

    1. Maybe the green beer is just an unfortunate American fixation! Thank for your kind words Laura! It is a blessing to me to know you were encouraged. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

      God bless and your studies from this side of the pond!

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