Award winning actor John Rhys-Davies, best known for his role as the dwarf Gimli in the highly successful Lord of the Rings trilogy, recently shared with Aleteia his admiration for Saint Patrick after working on the audio drama, The Trials of Saint Patrick.
He explained how for him, “[Saint] Patrick is giant. I am honored to have had a little part of bringing him to life.”
Far from being an outdated life that has no relevance, Rhys-Davies believes Saint Patrick’s story is an inspiration and can teach us many things in the 21st century.
“I think that what [he] teaches us is resolution and courage. The discovery of that little fire of belief in oneself. By study, by intention, by prayer, by the blessing of the Holy Spirit; it can change a man’s life into such a positive agent for the common good.”
“Of course, [at first] Patrick has ego, yes. But what Patrick does is, through being a slave, he becomes a master of men. He leads those in the darkness to light. Perhaps in our own, maybe smaller way the demons and the idols that he overthrows are some of the demons and the idols we all have to find a way of confronting and overthrowing ourselves.”
Before giving voice to the elder Patrick in The Trials of Saint Patrick, Rhys-Davies confessed that he didn’t know much about the Catholic saint.
“I didn’t have knowledge about Saint Patrick apart from the fact that he was probably a Welshman, and I always liked to jest to my Irish friends, ‘Well, of course, the only reason you have any civilization at all is because a Welsh brought it to you.'”
After learning more about his life, Rhys-Davies could not help seeing the essential role Saint Patrick had in the building of Western civilization.
“He is one of the unsung pillars of civilization. … He is an example of a man who expanded civilization. He’s an example of a man to whom our debt increases over the years. The Irish contribution to mankind is largely because a Welsh slave returned to convert Ireland to Christianity.
“Ireland, which was a festering heap of brutality and savagery, within a couple of centuries becomes a beacon of light in European civilization. It is filled with bright, intelligent, educated, learned men and becomes a glory, and it’s an extraordinary achievement.”
In the eyes of Rhys-Davies, Christianity played a central role in the overall development of Western civilization and is something he believes we all owe a debt to.
“I am very conscious of the debt that I owe to Christian civilization and to Christianity. Yes, and to Christians. Christianity is extraordinary. It is the most revolutionary affirmation of how people should live.”
Growing up in the Welsh Methodist tradition, Rhys-Davies has begun to look at the Bible anew, especially after being involved in the Truth and Life Dramatized New Testament.
He says he enjoys being part of a revitalization of Christianity in the West and believes that we must all work together to fight back the forces of darkness.
“[We] are going to have to find ways of coming together and finding common ground and we will have to defend Western European Christian civilization. …Christianity has always been at its best when it’s been pushed back on its heels and these are sad days and terrible days. …But, out of these trials will come something new, something special and God willing we may keep civilization afloat.”
The Trials of Saint Patrick is now available through the Augustine Institute Radio Theater.