Saint Patrick’s Day is typically remembered for its green beer, a green river, drunken festivities, leprechauns, and pinching people not wearing green. Yet this day is named for a man who is one of the world’s greatest missionaries. A missionary to a people who were deemed beyond hope of salvation and who had enslaved him in his youth.
To get an understanding of the state of the clans in Ireland, read a little from the Resurgence blog by Mark Driscoll on this topic:
The Roman Catholic Church had given up on converting such “barbarians” deemed beyond hope. The Celtic peoples, of which the Irish were part, were an illiterate bunch of drunken, fighting, perverted pagans who basically had sex with anyone and worshiped anything. They were such a violent and lawless people, numbering anywhere from 200,000 to 500,000, that they had no city centers or national government and were spread out among some 150 warring clans. Their enemies were terrified of them because they were known to show up for battles and partake in wild orgies before running into battle naked and drunk while screaming as if they were demon-possessed. One clan was so debased that it was customary for each of their new kings to copulate with a white mare as part of his inauguration.
Patrick (who was never actually made a “saint” by the Catholic church but is a “saint” according to the Bible) spent around thirty years preaching to the warring clans in Ireland. Thousands of people came to Christ and 30-40 of the 150 clans became mainly Christian. He also trained 1000 pastors and planted 700 churches during his years in a country of people “beyond hope” of salvation.
Patrick truly lived out the life described by the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 2:10:
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.