One of the most well-known saints to Christians and non-Christians alike, St. Patrick’s life, while often associated with shamrocks, beer, corned beef and cabbage included a number of challenges — including imprisonment, slander and other trials.
From St. Patrick’s Confessions
He said through the prophet: “Call on me in the day of your distress, and I will set you free, and you will glorify me. It is a matter of honor to reveal and tell forth the works of God.”
The general details of his life are well known, and we have learned many of these facts from Patrick’s own hand in his Confessions. He was captured by pirates at age sixteen and brought to Ireland where he worked as a slave and shepherd. He was converted during this time and credits these years as crucial to his spiritual journey. After returning home to Britain at age twenty one, he had a vision in which he received a letter from the people of Ireland crying out for him to come and walk among them.
He returned to Ireland as a missionary, but was turned away from the first community he visited. His difficulties did not end there…ancient manuscripts also document a trial where Patrick is accused of keeping gifts from wealthy women, and accepting payment for baptisms and ordinations.
Several other biographies of Patrick mention female converts and specifically royal and noble women who became nuns. Patrick himself writes that some of his converts became monastics in the face of family opposition. It may be that some of those who accused him were parents of nuns or monks who had a different kind of life in mind for their son or daughter.
Patrick’s life is truly a study of perseverance in the face of opposition. As he says in his Confessions “…so I’ll never stop giving thanks to my God, who kept me faithful in time of my temptation… He is the one who defended me in all my difficulties. I can say: Who am I, Lord, or what is my calling, that you have worked with me with such divine presence? This is how I come to praise and magnify your name among all the nations, wherever i am, not only in good times but in the difficult times too. He has shown me that I can put my faith in him without wavering and without end.”