As you enjoy your corned beef and green beer today, consider the real reason so many lay claims to Irish heritage each year on March 17: St. Patrick.
Although St. Patrick’s Day has for the most part become a secular holiday, it began as a way to honor the St. Patrick (c. 386-461).
Exact details of his life are uncertain, but it’s believed that he was born either in Scotland, England or northern Wales. When he was 16 years old. he and a large group of his father’s slaves and servants were captured by Irish raiders. They were taken away and sold as slaves in Ireland. There, he was forced to work as a shepherd, was poorly treated, underfed and inadequately clothed. He suffered greatly in his slavery.
Patrick managed to escape his captors after six years of forced labor. It’s likely he made it fist to France and then to Britain. In his state of slavery, Patrick had a conversion experience and it’s believed that, once free, he may have studied in Lerins, France and then spent years studying in Auxerre, France. At the age of 43, he was made a bishop and had a vision in which, as he later described, “all the children of Ireland from their mother’s wombs were stretching out their hands” to him. He perceived this as a call to return to the place of his captivity and convert the pagan people of Ireland to Christianity.
Patrick set out on his mission and traveled to areas of Ireland where the Christian faith had never been preached. As he went, he made many converts. He was fervent in encouraging widows to remain chaste and young women to remain pure and consecrate their virginity to Christ. As he traveled and preached, Patrick ordained many priests organized the country into dioceses, instituted Church councils, founded several monasteries, and was persistent in guiding the Irish people to holiness.
Unfortunately, the pagan druids were not in favor of Patrick’s ministry and highly criticized him for it. Yet, this did not stop him from continuing his mission and did not squelch the new-found Christian faith of the Irish. In time, Patrick sent out missionaries who ultimately became greatly responsible for Christianizing Europe.
[bctt tweet=”St. Patrick’s life is quite remarkable, and his circumstances make me think about today’s growing problem of human trafficking. He himself was a victim of this nightmare that has destroyed – and keeps destroying – the lives of defenseless women and men, most of whom are very young.” username=”MargeFenelon”]
St. Patrick’s life is quite remarkable, and his circumstances make me think about today’s growing problem of human trafficking. He himself was a victim of this nightmare that has destroyed – and keeps destroying – the lives of defenseless women and men, most of whom are very young.
In 2016, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children estimated that 1 in 6 endangered runaways likely become sex trafficking victims. According to recent figures from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 600,000 to 800,000 women, children, and men are bought and sold across international borders every year and exploited for forced labor or commercial sex.
Not unlike what happened to St. Patrick.
Surely, he understands the plight of those captured and sold in the human trafficking market (a $32 billion/year industry) because he himself had been captured and sold into forced labor. He suffered degradation, exhaustion, hardship, and hunger at the hands of his captors, just like those caught in human trafficking in our present time.
As we don our green outfits and revel in all things Irish, today, we might pause to say a prayer to St. Patrick for those suffering from human trafficking and for an end to this heartbreaking affliction.
St. Patrick has become the Patron Saint of Ireland. Perhaps he could become a patron saint of victims of human trafficking as well.