Was St Patrick actually a Protestant?

Believe it or not, I’ve been seeing some Protestants claiming that Saint Patrick was not actually a Catholic, but really a (proto) Protestant! In response to this, I decided to look at what Patrick actually said. It turns out there are 3 short writings that are accepted as authentically by Patrick: The Breastplate Hymn, the Confession, and the Epistle to Coroticus. They can be found HERE with good footnotes by the editors.

Not surprisingly, nothing in those short writings sounded anything like Protestantism. No mention of faith alone, no mention of sola scriptura, etc, etc. Quite the opposite, in fact.

In the 1 page long Breastplate Hymn: Patrick calls upon Cherubim, Angels, Archangels, Confessors and holy Virgins. He calls upon “the light of the sun, the brightness of the moon, the splendor of fire, the speed of lightning, the swiftness of the wind, and depth of the sea,” all of which sounds more like one of the Psalms, and not like any Protestant prayer I’ve ever heard of.

In the 10 page long Confession: Patrick directly quotes from the Catholic books of Scripture which Protestants reject! Patrick directly quotes from Tobit 12:7 (paragraph 2); directly from Wisdom 1:11 (para 3); directly from Sirach 4:29 (para 4); and Sirach 7:15-16 (par 5).

In the Confession: Patrick speaks a lot about being judged by God at the end of our life according to how we lived, good or evil, and that even the smallest of sins will be taken into account (paragraphs 2-3). This is hardly possible with Faith Alone and Once Saved Always Saved.

In the Confession: Patrick speaks of how he was connected to the Catholic Church and wasn’t going around on his own the way Protestants set about on their own to start their own churches or how the Reformers took it upon themselves to Reform. Rather, Patrick received visions from Jesus and the Holy Spirit to evangelize Ireland, whereas the Protestant Reformers never claimed to have visions/instructions from God. Patrick set sail for France to get seminary education and ordination to be a bishop, and he had to defend his reputation from his past sins in order to be a worthy candidate. But the Protestant Reformers didn’t get ordained to bishops, and never had to answer for their lifestyles. (Paragraphs 4-10)

In the Confession: Patrick says by going to Ireland the Gospel had finally reached the ends of the earth, which would be impossible if he wasn’t connected to the Catholic Church, which was the only visible and universal Christian body at the time.

In the Confession: Patrick says he baptized thousands and ordained clergy in Ireland (para 22), which if he were Protestant he wouldn’t have had to, and I know of no Protestants who have done such a thing. Patrick also says many Irish became monks and nuns (consecrated virgins). Paragraphs 18,22.

In the 5 page long Epistle to Coroticus: Patrick speaks of neophites (new Christians) anointed with oil (Confirmation) and put on ceremonial white robes (paragraph 2), just like how Catholics do it at Easter Vigil. Patrick says that Christians who fall into grave sin should “rigorously do repentance with tears” in order to “make satisfaction to God” (4). Patrick directly quotes Sirach 34:23-24 and speaks of what sounds like mortal sin (4). He says there are numerous monks and virgins from the converts in Ireland (6). He speaks of the “custom of Roman and Gallic Christians to send holy and suitable men to the Franks and other nations” (7), which indicates a Catholic Church, and a venerable Roman and Gaellic churches. And he spends most of the letter warning those who have sinned and gone apostate to repent or be damned. This is hardly the sound of a proto-Protestant.

So don’t be fooled into thinking Patrick was in any way a Protestant. He was a Catholic, and that’s why we celebrate him today! :thumbsup:


:shamrock2: Forgot to add this. Didn’t he also teach about the Trinity?

St Patrick is named after a popular festive holiday, so it should be assumed there’s going to be a movement somewhere claiming St Patrick was X, Y, or Z in order to align with X, Y, or Z beliefs. If he was an obscure saint, none of this would be talked about. Anything famous and revered is going to be a prize to be won.

The idea that St. Patrick was a Protestant has its roots in the Church of Ireland (the Protestant Irish equivalent of the Church of England.) It was a necessary historical reconstruction to satisfy and justify the Church of Ireland. It has been refuted in print by true Catholic Irish since the 19th Century. :wink:

I took a look at how all my FB friends celebrated St patricks day…99.9% of them were engaging in heavy drinking and partying…all while claiming to ‘celebrate’ St Patricks day…??

I found myself wondering why so many non religious people were celebrating a saint, no matter what denomination he really was.

Its kind of like modern day Christmas, it has morphed into a celebration of blasphemy and sin.


The only thing that I can think of that could possibly relate to the claims made by the Protestants you are referring to (which is probably not what they’re referring to in the first place) is the fact that early Irish Christians did have some differences from the Church growing out of Rome. I cannot remember all of the specifics, but they were addressed in Thomas Cahill’s very good book How the Irish Saved Civilization. In this very good historical work, Cahill describes how early Irish Christians were a little different for a time, really pioneering the practice of private confession, allowing women, especially abbesses, more leadership roles within the Church, and connecting their Christianity in some ways to the ways of nature (since their spirituality was so connected with nature previously among the Druids). These alterations were then corrected and brought more in line with Rome at the Synod of Whitby in 664.

Now, this is obviously not Protestantism at all, and doesn’t necessary originate from Saint Patrick himself. However, I figured that I would simply point out the historical record.

May God bless you all! :slight_smile:

The tradition among Catholics in Ireland is the Pope send St Patrick to Ireland. Protestants reject this. They also argue the church in Ireland was not consolidated under the Pope until the Norman invasion, and reject St Patrick taught anything ‘Catholic.’

Interestingly, Jehovah’s Witnesses have in past argued there is no evidence he taught the Trinity using a shamrock and apparently there was no shamrock growing in Ireland until the 16 century. :shrug:

Wouldn’t such a claim require evidence that Patrick arrived with a boatload of Zondervan New International Version bibles and simply walked around handing them out? Or that he wore $5,000 Hugo Boss suits and preached from a stage to 50,000 at a time?


An over-generalization of Protestantism, but funny nonetheless.



And would he wear a Rolex on his television show?




Indeed - don’t be silly. He handed tracts made of parchment and used a big shell as loudhailer. :smiley:

Sunnubian, an African American organization, states that hat st. Patrick was a murderer and killed this tribe of people call Twa. Do you know anything about that statement?

Never heard of it in my life - and I have heard many legends about St Patrick

I have since googled it and come across an article on facebook - a very reliable source of information. As I understand it it is alleged leprechauns were African people called the Twa and St Patrick chased them out of Ireland. The blog does not say whether he accomplished this single handed or not.

Most of Irish history prior to the 10th century is largely legend and there is very little evidence for any of it. That said, authoritative historians concur the first people to arrive in Ireland were Vikings via Scotland. I think St Patrick may have found the Viking somewhat more resistant than pygmies, so maybe he picked on them instead of the Vikings. Why did the Vikings not run them out of Ireland? :shrug:

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