It’s now official; the Rev Ian Paisley says that St Patrick was a Protestant! He might as well claim him as everyone else seems to claim him too.
The more remote the culture gets from his beliefs the more enthusiastically the culture celebrates his day! It would be hard to find any resemblance of the authentic Patrick in any of the multitude of parades that bear his name although there is no doubting the commercial and community value of these occasions.
Patrick’s first visit to Ireland was as a slave and during the six years before his escape he had an encounter with God. This is how he described it in his ‘Confession’:-
“I was taken into captivity to Ireland with many thousands of people. We deserved this fate because we had turned away from God;…. This is where I am now, in all my insignificance, among strangers. The Lord there made me aware of my unbelief that I might at last recognise my sins and turn wholeheartedly to the Lord my God.
Patrick’s second visit to Ireland was as a missionary. As he said;
I cannot be silent then, nor indeed should I, about the great benefits and grace, which the Lord saw fit to confer on me in the land of my captivity.”
Patrick a Protestant? Perhaps it would be more accurate to simply call him a Christian as the concluding verses of his famous hymn make clear:-
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me! Christ below me, Christ above me. Christ at my right, Christ at my left! Christ in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height!