March 18th, 2011

Congratulations to all Orthodox Christians on St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick first stepped onto the shores of the Emerald Isle at the age of 16 years as a slave who had been kidnapped by Irish pirates. He managed to escape from Ireland and his fate, but on the orders of an angel he returned to Ireland as a Christian bishop, after which Ireland exploded with monks and missionaries, scholastics and theologians, historians and scribes. They were the ones who, after being baptized at the hands of St. Patrick, became the baptizers of the rest of Western Europe. Christian Ireland sent out missionaries to the remotest corners of Europe, unable to contain their adoration for the beauty of Christ that Saint Patrick had impressed upon them. They founded monasteries and Christian communities, created Christian schools that later became the basis of European universities and wrote books and collected libraries that helped Europe emerge from the barbarism into which it had plunged after the fall of the Roman Empire.

Even in Italy the monastic tradition was established by a follower of St. Patrick – St. Columban. He founded the famous monastery of Bobbio, whose monks re-baptized the Apennines, who had been captured by Arians and pagans, while the Pope, a subject of the Byzantine emperor at that time, belonged rather to the Eastern Christian tradition. In addition to this the disciples of St. Patrick played a prominent role in the Christianization of Russia, as they were the ones who baptized the cousins of Saint Vladimir of Kiev - the Vikings of Denmark and Norway. Even now, the influence of St. Patrick and the momentum he imparted to the Irish Church has not exhausted itself, and can be felt in the farthest reaches of the earth.