By Fr. Kevin Magner
During this fourth week of Lent we celebrate the feast days of two great saints—St. Patrick (March 17) and St. Joseph (March 19).
St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, or as my Irish friend calls it, “the Holy Land”. Because Patrick is so closely associated with all things Irish, many people may be surprised to learn that he himself was not Irish. He was, in fact, born in Great Britain but was kidnapped as a boy by Irish pirates and brought to Ireland by his captors. He was a slave there for six years until he managed to escape and make his way back to Britain. However, during his time of enslavement Patrick grew closer to God and prayed constantly throughout the day. When he returned to his homeland he became a priest and decided to return to Ireland as a missionary to bring the Gospel to the Irish people. Throughout his 40 years of preaching, he managed to convert all of Ireland to Christianity. St. Patrick is believed to have died on March 17, 461.
St. Joseph is known to all of us as the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the foster father of Jesus. Because of this, St. Joseph is the patron saint of fathers. Being a carpenter he is also the patron saint of workers. Joseph has also come to be known as one of the patron saints of Italy. How this came about was because of a drought that occurred in Sicily during the Middle Ages. The starving people of Sicily prayed to St. Joseph for rain for their crops. The rains came and the people were spared from a severe famine. To thank St. Joseph for his intercession in their prayers the people held a great feast in which everyone was invited. That tradition continues to this day among many Italian families, with a St. Joseph’s table loaded with food for his feast day.
For all people, these two great saints that we honor this week are examples of simple ordinary men who followed the call of God for their lives. As we honor them let us pray through their intercession that we, too, will listen to the call of God in our lives and follow Him as we are directed.
Have a blessed week!