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St. Patrick – March 17

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Biographical selection:

Patrick was the Apostle of a people, the light of Ireland, the father of this nation whose martyrdom will endure for ages. In him the gift of the apostolate shone. Christ put this gift in His Church and it will remain in her to the end times.

An illuminated manuscript image of St Patrick resting on a rock

St. Patrick resting on a rock. Beneath are sleeping animals that represent the unconverted people
13th century illuminated manuscript

Some apostles were given the mission of working with a small part of the Gentiles and planting a seed among a certain group of people. It germinates to a greater or lesser degree according to the maliciousness or docility of men. But other apostles have the mission of making rapid conquests and submitting entire nations to the Gospel. Patrick belongs to this latter type of apostles. We should honor him as one of the most outstanding monuments of Divine Mercy toward men. His work was admirably solid.

In the 5th century, Great Britain was unaware that the Messiah had come. All the northern nations slept in the darkness of faithlessness. Before the successive awaking of many of those peoples, Ireland received the news of salvation. The word of God brought by the Apostle Patrick grew on that emerald Island, more fertile in fruits of grace than of nature. Its saints were abundant and spread throughout Europe.

The Irish missionaries spread the evangelization they received from their Founding Saint to other countries. When the hour of the great apostasy of the 16th century sounded, Germany, England, Scotland and the Scandinavian nations fell to Protestantism. But Ireland remained faithful. No persecution, subtle or atrocious as it might be, was able to take it from the Catholic Faith as taught by St. Patrick.

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

These beautiful words of Dom Guéranger bring before our eyes one of those figures of evangelizers of entire peoples. Dom Guéranger makes a distinction that is very true and shows us what we often call a man of the right hand of God.

A statue of St Patrick holding a shamrock

Above, a statue of St. Patrick stands over Croagh Patrick Mountain protecting Ireland. Below, remains of the monastery at Shane, where St. Patrick defied the pagan kings.

Ruins of the Monastery of Shane

There are certain men chosen by God to make limited, small apostolates. For this work they are efficient and powerful. God gives them the graces for those efforts, but their works do not spread further. In Europe there are many Saints who are famous in their Dioceses, in the places they professed their vows or made various foundations. They sowed the seeds of Christendom in those specific places, where they are venerated. They are chosen as Patron Saints of a region, and local pilgrimages are made to their tombs. They constitute part of the rich multitude of facets that regional life brings to the ensemble of the Church and society.

There are other men, however, who play roles in the life of the Church on an international scale. Such apostles can be called men of the right hand of God in a more marked way. Obstacles are insignificant before them. They realize things no one would imagine possible to do. In this way they rapidly accelerate the march of History and the progress of the Church. We can say that St. Patrick was one of those men.

What is said about St. Patrick could also be said regarding Ireland. We normally stress the influence of Cluny in the Middle Ages. It is a correct point. But it is also important to stress the role played by the Irish people. Ireland was a true starting point for the irradiation of the Catholic Faith into nations that gave much glory to God, although centuries later they would become Protestant.

As the Catholic Faith established itself in Ireland, monasteries were founded throughout the country. By means of these monasteries, the Irish participated in the missionary action of the Carolingian Empire. In this sense they played a role in evangelizing England, Scotland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and the nations of the Northern Sea. In that time Ireland played a role similar to that which the Iberian Peninsula would play in the 16th century, when Spain and Portugal were the point of evangelization of Latin America, as well as parts of Africa and Asia. Analogously, after a period of irradiation, the glory of Ireland - like the glory of Spain and Portugal - faded.

The Revolution and the Secret Forces employed every effort to make Spain and Portugal apostatize from the Catholic Faith. The world glory of those countries faded, and in many points they denied the Catholic position, although some of the old fidelity still remains. Ireland, however, never apostatized. It received this prize because it was the apostolic nation of the North. Ireland remains firm, very firm for the glory of God.

This fact is very beautiful and should raise our hearts to God in thanksgiving. But it is also true that Ireland was infiltrated by Socialism and other forms of the Revolution. Irish Catholicism became in large measure liberal and progressivist. As a result the Irish immigration to the United States was largely made up of leftists and liberal Catholics. That is to say, that magnificent Catholic Ireland became rotten in great part through the maneuvers of the Revolution even though it remained inside the Church.

Let us pray to St. Patrick to obtain from Our Lady an end to this situation so that everything will not be corrupted. If things continue the way they are going, this is what will happen in a short time. It is why it is necessary that God intervene soon.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
The Saint of the Day features highlights from the lives of saints based on comments made by the late Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Following the example of St. John Bosco who used to make similar talks for the boys of his College, each evening it was Prof. Plinio’s custom to make a short commentary on the lives of the next day’s saint in a meeting for youth in order to encourage them in the practice of virtue and love for the Catholic Church. TIA thought that its readers could profit from these valuable commentaries.

The texts of both the biographical data and the comments come from personal notes taken by Atila S. Guimarães from 1964 to 1995. Given the fact that the source is a personal notebook, it is possible that at times the biographic notes transcribed here will not rigorously follow the original text read by Prof. Plinio. The commentaries have also been adapted and translated for TIA’s site.

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