Will The Real Saint Patrick Please Stand Up!

March 17 is widely celebrated as St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick according to the Roman Catholics, is the patron saint of Ireland, the Emerald Island. And so it is, green has come to be associated with St. Patrick. Many adults use this occasion to engage in reveling and drinking, green beer and whiskey being the accepted way to celebrate Irish history.

“Patrick, a son of a Christian family in southern Scotland, was carried off to Ireland by pirates about 376 A. D. Here, in slavery, he gave his heart to God and, after six years of servitude, escaped, returning to his home in Scotland. But he could not forget the spiritual need of these poor heathen, and after ten years he returned to Ireland as a missionary of the Celtic church.” (ibid, p. 70).

“Patrick himself writes in his Confession: ‘I, Patrick, …had Calpornius for my father, a deacon, a son of the late Potitus, the presbyter, who dwelt in the village of Banavan….I was captured. I was almost sixteen years of age…and taken to Ireland in captivity with many thousand men.'” (William Cathcart, D. D., The Ancient British and Irish Churches, p.127).

The Truth of history however is not well known. St. Patrick was not Irish, but a Scottish missionary to Ireland instead. He was not a Sunday keeping Roman Catholic Trinitarian, but a Sabbath-keeper who was opposed to the Trinity concept. Seventh Day Baptists have long been aware of the facts concerning St. Patrick. The book, Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America (1910), reports that the Hebrew Faith in Ireland was founded soon after the death of Messiah by disciples of the Asian Churches. Columba’s planting of a Sabbath-keeping community in the island of Iona was the result of Patrick’s ministry. Celtic Ireland was unattached to Rome until no earlier than 1155. Some Irish Sabbath-keepers remained until the nineteenth century.

According to the Seventh-day Adventist historian, Leslie Hardinge, in his book “The Celtic Church in Britain”, Patrick (ca. 387-463) evangelized Ireland, and founded over 300 churches and baptized over 120,000 converts. However, the Hebrew faith existed in Ireland long before Patrick’s time. Many Celtic believers in Ireland were Arians (anti-Trinitarian). They kept the Sabbath from sundown to sundown. They were known to be Quartodecimans, observers of the annual Passover once a year, on the fourteenth day of the first month in the spring. They also eschewed unclean meats. Their ministry had to be recognized, even by outsiders, to be honest and above reproach, and celibacy was not practiced until later times. Celtic services included reciting the Decalogue.

Wherever Patrick went, he left an old Celtic law book, Liber ex Lege Moisi (Book of the Law of Moses), as well as other books of the Gospel. The Liber begins with the Decalogue, and continues with selections from the Torah. Citing Exodus 23:1-19, Part 4 of the Liber emphasizes that the Sabbath is to be kept, along with three annual feasts. Part 5 notes that according to Exodus 31:13, the Sabbath is a sign of God’s people. Patrick practiced laying on of hands after baptism so the person would receive the Holy Spirit. While “St. Patrick” is revered as a Roman Catholic saint, his writings appear to place him squarely in the Sabbath-keeping Messianic tradition.

Green is the color of the Irish; green is also the color of the Sabbath. Green invokes feelings of abundant crops and peace, which the Sabbath day pictures and exemplifies. Historically, Irish Celtic Sabbath-keepers have played a major role in the preservation of the practice of Sabbath-keeping in continental Europe and beyond. Celtic Irish missionaries evangelized Europe during the Dark Ages.

So, the next time someone asks you on St. Patrick’s Day if you are wearing green, tell them, “Yes! I keep the seventh day Sabbath, just like Patrick of Ireland did!” Let us continue to wear the green.

“In this latter instance they seemed to have followed a custom of which we find traces in the early monastic church of Ireland by which they held Saturday to be the Sabbath on which they rested from all their labours.” (W.T. Skene, Adamnan Life of St. Columba, 1874, p.96)

“It seems to have been customary in the Celtic churches of early times, in Ireland as well as Scotland, to keep Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, as a day of rest from labor. They obeyed the fourth commandment literally upon the seventh day of the week.” (James C. Moffatt, D. D.,The Church in Scotland, Philadelphia: 1882, p.140)