Happy Saint Patrick’s Day on the Julian calendar. As they say in Gaelic, “Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!”
Some folks are surprised to learn that the Orthodox celebrate Western saints, but it is no different than the Romans’ remembrance of most of the biblical saints who never traveled west or of the thousands of lumen ad revelationem gentium who never knew Latin. However, the celebration of pre-schism Western saints has increased as more Westerners adopt the Orthodox faith. Celtic, English, and Germanic saints like David of Wales, Patrick, Columba, Boniface, and Benedict are quite popular among Western Orthodox Christians. My own patron, Joseph of Arimathea, has a peculiar Western following in Britain due to the legends that he traveled to Roman Britain both before and after Christ’s earthly ministry.
The Western rite Orthodox, of whom I have before written, hold Western saints in particular high esteem. For they see them as their own forebears—spiritual ancestors who preached the gospel to their distant grandfathers. Last year, Andrew and I visited one of these parishes on its patronal feast day of Saint Patrick. I had never before celebrated the apostle to Ireland liturgically.
You may learn more about Patrick at the Saint Patrick Centre in County Down, Ireland and at OrthodoxWiki, which includes links to several Latin, Orthodox, and secular resources.
Holy Bishop Patrick,
Faithful shepherd of Christ’s royal flock,
You filled Ireland with the radiance of the Gospel:
The mighty strength of the Trinity!
Now that you stand before the Savior,
Pray that He may preserve us in faith and love!
From slavery you escaped to freedom in Christ’s service:
He sent you to deliver Ireland from the devil’s bondage.
You planted the Word of the Gospel in pagan hearts.
In your journeys and hardships you rivaled the Apostle Paul!
Having received the reward for your labors in heaven,
Never cease to pray for the flock you have gathered on earth,
Holy bishop Patrick!