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What did St. Patrick think of himself?

SAINT PATRICK

The Mask and Mirror | Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 03/14/24

St. Patrick was a holy man, but he did not think he was, and would often point out his many faults, asking for forgiveness. He did not view himself as a saint.

Oddly enough, St. Patrick is often forgotten about on St. Patrick’s Day, as the secular world mainly focuses on shamrocks, leprechauns, and pots of gold.

St. Patrick would not have been upset about such an oversight, as he did not view himself as a saint, but as a sinful man.

This point of view can be found in his autobiography, the Confession of St. Patrick:

My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers. I am looked down upon by many.

As he narrates his life, St. Patrick admits that he deserves every bad thing that happened to him, such as being taken captive:

I was taken prisoner. I was about 16 at the time. At that time, I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity in Ireland, along with thousands of others. We deserved this, because we had gone away from God, and did not keep his commandments. 

The least of the servants of God

Yet, St. Patrick continually tried to do God’s will, and in doing so he became a very important figure in Ireland.

This acclaim he did not like, as he explains in his autobiography:

I see that already in this present age the Lord has given me a greatness more than could be expected. I was not worthy of this, not the kind of person the Lord would do this for, since I know for certain that poverty and calamity are more my style than riches and enjoyment. But Christ the Lord became poor for us; I too am wretched and unhappy.

Despite this humble view of himself, St. Patrick understood that he was simply a vessel, an instrument of God:

For him I perform the work of an ambassador, despite my less than noble condition. However, God is not influenced by such personal situations, and he chose me for this task so that I would be one servant of his very least important servants.

All of this confirms the sanctity of St. Patrick and how he was able to fulfill God’s will through his many weaknesses.

While he may not have viewed himself as a saint, the Church recognized his holiness and continues to venerate him to this day.

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