St Alban's Church

Churchill Parken 6, Langelinie, DK 1263, Copenhagen, Denmark | Map


Today is: Tuesday 16th, 2019

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day – A Message from the Chaplain

Posted on Friday 17th March, 2017

My dear friends,

There are many reasons and many ways to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Readers may be interested to know that the Patron Saint of Ireland is commemorated in the official liturgies of all four Anglican Churches in Britain and Ireland. 17 March is observed as a “Lesser Festival” in the Church of England, as a “Category IV Feast” in the Episcopal Church of Scotland, and as a “Category V Feast” in the Church in Wales (don’t ask me to explain the difference between a category IV and a category V feast!).

However, my favourite reason to celebrate Ireland’s most famous saint is the fact that he was not Irish! In fact, in a wonderful piece of providential paradox, Patrick was in all probability a Romano-Briton! We can’t know for sure where he was born – some say Dumbarton, others Cornwall and still others Carlisle – but we can say with great confidence that it wasn’t anywhere on the island of Ireland.

What’s more, we can be pretty definite that Patrick’s first visit to “the Emerald Isle” was made very much against his will. It is believed that at the age of sixteen he was captured by Irish raiders and taken as a slave. He then endured six years of great hardship before escaping and fleeing, possibly to continental Europe. It was several years later – having sensed the call to go and evangelise his former captors – that Patrick returned to the land of his enslavement.

All of these events happened many centuries ago (Patrick is believed to have died in 461) but they have a striking contemporary resonance – the evils of people trafficking and slavery are still with us; while questions of national and ethnic identity are increasingly in the news. Through the prayers and writings attributed to him, Patrick still speaks to us of the joy and challenge of discerning the presence of Christ in all people and in all situations. As the prayer known as “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate” puts it:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!



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