Celts Honoured Nature (St. Patrick)

By Hamel, Peter | Anglican Journal, March 1996 | Go to article overview

Celts Honoured Nature (St. Patrick)


Hamel, Peter, Anglican Journal


ST. PATRICK'S DAY is coming soon. Patrick was part of the ancient Celtic church which saw the divine spirit in every living creature and loved all animals for their own sake.

Born about 387, the "Apostle of the Irish" was captured at age 16 by Irish raiders on the family farm in Wales or Scotland and taken to Ireland as a slave for six years. As a shepherd he began to practise seriously his Christian faith.

In his Confession, he wrote: "I stayed in the forests and on the mountains, and before daylight I used to be roused to prayer in snow and frost and rain, and felt no harm ... the spirit seethed in me ... on a certain night I heard in my sleep a voice saying to me: You are fasting well, and are very soon going to your fatherland. And again, very soon afterwards I heard the response saying to me: Look, your ship is ready."

After walking 340 kilometres, he boarded a ship for Britain or Gaul. Soon after rejoining his family, Patrick received a vision calling him to evangelize Ireland. At 45, he returned as the second bishop of Ireland.

He established churches and the seeds of monasticism.

His success was due in part to his willingness to accept the indigenous traditions of the "high" Irish culture and to adapt his teaching to them. When asked about this new God, Patrick replied: "Our God is the God of all men, the God of heaven and earth, of sea and river, of sun and moon, and stars, of the lofty mountain and the lowly valley, the God above heaven, the God in heaven, the God under heaven; He has his dwelling around heaven and earth and sea and all that in them is. …

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