The Adventures of Patrick of Ireland — Aching for Hollywood’s Attention

With the impending release of special-affects-loaded blockbuster Noah and the arrival of St Patrick’s Day, I am again reminded: Every time I hear the story of the bishop who transformed the nation of Ireland, Mel Gibson comes to mind. Whatever one thinks of the Australian actor/director, he’s demonstrated himself a skilled movie hand — The Passion of the Christ, controversial though it be, is a cinematic masterpiece. His Apocolypto was admittedly flawed, but even so still impressive. And Braveheart — need I say more?

Well, the exploits of Patrick of Ireland are a tale clamoring for a big-budget, skillfully crafted, Hollywood rendering. Gibson, a professing Catholic with an eye for cinematic storytelling, with lots of money to invest in personal projects, would be perfect at the helm of such an enterprise.

The fabled Irish figure known as St. Patrick was, in fact, not a native of the Emerald Isle at all. Actually, in the closing years of the fourth century and the Roman empire, he was born Magnus Sucatus Patricius in what was Roman Britain (possibly Wales). It was a region being quickly abandoned by its former Roman conquerors, increasingly threatened by feral Picts and Scots to the north and foreign marauders from overseas. One of these, a band of Irish raiders, attacked and sacked the seaside villa of the 16-year-old Patricius’ aristocratic, Christian family. The young man and a group of his father’s servants were captured and hauled off to Ireland, where the teenager became slave to the Druid chieftain-king Miliuce of Slemich. Soon enough, he found himself dispatched to the bleak, northeastern Slemish mountain; alone, everything he’d taken for granted back in his privileged home life now gone, he was assigned the care of the king’s sheep and swine.

For six grueling years the captive swineherd labored on that rain-swept pasture — and began to pray. The Christian faith which Patricius had learned — and largely rejected — as a youth became a profound source of comfort and peace for him in his destitution. “I would pray 100 times a day, and almost as many times at night,” he would one day write. “It was the fervent Spirit praying within me.”

Asleep one night on those dreary heights, Patricius heard a voice in a dream instructing him to strike out for the coast where he would find a ship back to Britain. Awakening, he slogged 200 miles to discover, indeed, a ready vessel, a way of escape. Returning home, but no longer the self-absorbed young man who had been snatched from his family years before, Patricius entered a period of his life of which paltry details are known.

What we do know, however, is that the fugitive slave eventually had another life-shaping dream: This time, a figure from the land of his former, grim servitude materialized before him, bearing letters from the Irish people, and another nocturnal voice echoed: “Come, and walk among us once more.” Patricius understood the charge and knew he must assent.

Family, friends, even some church leaders were appalled. Return to the barbaric Irish? Human sacrifice was a staple among those demon-haunted pagans! He was their runaway slave shepherd! What monstrous abuses might he suffer at their hands? Others insisted the beasts across the Irish sea were not deserving of the Christian gospel.

Patricius’ unruffled response? “I am prepared to be murdered, betrayed, enslaved — whatever may come my way.” He sold his title of nobility to raise funds for the mission, even refusing financial support offered by others, was ordained a priest, then a bishop, and, around the year 432 set sail for the land that had once been for him a prison of torment and despair.

Thirty years of fruitful ministry followed: Converts made, churches and centers of learning planted, social reforms implemented. It was a fruitful and perilous ministry — on more than one occasion, Patricius really did face those “murder, betrayal and enslavement” threats to which he defiantly alluded. There were rejections from the Irish people, spiritual showdowns with Druid magicians, even opposition from petty church officials. Yet, near the end of his life, the evangelist to Hibernia could exult, “Those who never had a knowledge of God but worshiped idols and things impure, have now become a people of the Lord, sons of God.”

Patricius’ saga embraces loads of the elements that make for big-screen powerhouses today. Obviously, there is adventure: eruptive and menacing action, a kidnapping, sea journeys, far-off lands, even pirates (maybe Johnny Depp could take a turn as an Irish brigand — we know he can do accents, and the pirate thing must be second nature to him by now). Also featured: family strife, emotional conflict, intrigue, otherworldly themes, and inspiration.

Clearly, no lack of exotic, even fanciful, legends have gathered around the chronicle of Patrick of Ireland; but even setting aside those more dubious accounts, and confining ourselves only to what we know pretty confidently about him, the illuminating, ennobling experience of the man popularly called “St. Patrick” provides us with a tale of startling exhilaration. It’s an epic venture, the commemoration of which has been obscenely reduced to a day to giggle about leprechauns, eat corned beef, and drink green beer. Where is the top-shelf, thoughtful box-office telling this spiritual giant’s life demands?

Mel Gibson, Ridley Scott, some innovative Hollywood big-shot – call your office!

Image: Courtesy of: Albert Bridge; Creative Commons; photo/760732

About the author: Steve Pauwels

Steve Pauwels is pastor of Church of the King, Londonderry, NH and managing editor of

View all articles by Steve Pauwels

  • Matthew Dec

    Yea, that would make a good movie. I often thought a remake of Richard Burton’s “The Robe” would be good one too.
    Or a tv series called “Highway to Hell.” It would be similar to “Highway to “Heaven” except instead of an angel going around helping people; it would be about a devil that went around getting people into trouble ( with a moral theme.)

    • Pete Perez-Donnelly

      *My Opinions: Perhaps, A.G. Eric Holder should play” the Devil who goes around getting people into trouble??” Holder definitely got Republican D.Nesh Souza in a lot of trouble with phony, Politically Motivated, criminal charges! Holder should be Impeached Immediately.*

      • Matthew Dec

        Or how about the devil standing before the Throne of God requesting to tempt every black professing Christian with the accusation; “Yea, they say they love you. You let me place a homosexual anti-Christ marxist before them that’s black; and you will see just how quickly they vote for ME…”

  • zknight2

    Not to get off topic, but since it was mentioned….Christ did not go though all that He did for Mel Gibson to make 200-300 millon dollars on His life and death. And then I wonder just how much Mr. Gibson gave to help any church or others?
    Just a thought.

    • Pete Perez-Donnelly

      *My Opinions: Mel Gibson built ” his” own Catholic Church. He paid for all of it, to be built! He gave it, to his Local Parish for Free.
      He paid for it with the stipulation that” One or more Masses(Church Services) would be in Latin.” Mel loves Latin Masses. I used to be an altar boy when the Masses were all in Latin. I am 68 years (very)Old. Nowadays 95% of all Masses are in the local Language. Thus, they are in English, in the U.S.A.!*

      • Jim

        Mel is not a Catholic in good standing. The Church he built I believe is not in Communion with the Catholic Church, but an immitation. He believes the Pacy is vacant now or something. I hope repents, he’s got some crazy ideas.

        The Passion of the Christ was the best Jesus movie ever made. I would trust him with St. Patrick; he is a brilliant filmmaker besides having some screws not tightly wound in.

        • AG Dot Com!

          For Man is Mortal, and prone to imperfection. God alone is without flaw, and Jesus through him.

          • Jim


    • sjplwc

      Whatever Gibson’s motives, lifestyle, shortcomings … The Passion of the Christ is a masterpiece every human being– at least those who won’t pass out from the horror of what it shows — ought to see. Mel Gibson rendered an historic service to mankind in making that film.

  • 19gundog43

    Gibson is the only one I would trust to do a movie on St. Patrick.
    Otherwise we would get a drunken priest, doubting his faith while preaching
    about how global warming has ruined Ireland. He would then marry a
    heart-of-gold prostitute and become a bartender. Lord, how we need men of God
    like Patricius today!

    • Jim

      LOL…Great comment!


    For such a small country it is very rich in history. Much is still available in restored sites. I found it interesting everywhere I went, and the people are friendly beyond belief.

  • Pete Perez-Donnelly

    *My Opinions: Saint Patrick’s original name could Not have been Patricus. Patricus is another form of the Latin Word Patricio which means Patrician or Nobility in English!
    St. Patrick was already a Priest when King Niall captured him. King Niall was the correct name of the King who captured Saint Patrick. It takes a long time(decades) for any Priest to become a Bishop! Most Catholic Priests Never become Bishops.*

    • Ole Aggie

      It takes a long time NOW, but the seminary system now in use was only instituted after the Protestant revolt of the 1500s. A man who is willing to abjure marital rights could be ordained to both levels of the priesthood immediately and consecutively.

    • sjplwc

      Not sure what your source is for the above. Mine state he was born Magnus Sucatus Patricius in late 4th century Britain to an aristocratic (patrician)/Roman family. There is a lot of murkiness about his early years and even his later ministry in Ireland.

    • DrZarkov99

      For an accurate history, suggest you read “The Secret Gospels of Ireland,” available now. Opinion is not how to assert what you think is history – better to read material by people who’ve done the research.

      • ansonheath

        “Opinion is not how to assert what you think is history – better to read material by people who’ve done the research.”
        Thanks for the quote and will try to commit to memory.

  • Bundle Up

    Reject the superstitions and illusions of today’s liberals and progressives:

  • Circa53

    Are you sure you want this??..Hollyweird will portray him as a drunken homosexual, frolicking through the clover..Brokeback Dublin..

  • John Kenner

    In the war against the superstitions and illusions of today’s progressives, knowledge is your most potent weapon:

  • Uncle Rex

    Citizens: Alter and abolish the ever-shifting mirage of illusions conjured up by today’s liberals and progressives:

  • Jay Va

    Marxism failed, in part, because it deprived natural human aggression of an outlet toward the internal channel of private property.

  • Evergreen Fields

    Even if democratically elected, a centralized government devoid of principles will be rapidly forced to submit to the principles of others.

  • Mr. Sequel

    In part, the case for liberty rests upon our recognition that the most effective way to adapt to the future’s unpredictability is to ensure that each of us is free to best adapt to the unknown future circumstances we are sure to face.

  • Liberalism is Nonsense

    The worth of our skills in a free country depends upon our ability to make our talents known to those who can best make use of them.

  • Hima Layan

    Well, always keep in mind that defeating the foul and cankerous blight of marxism requires serious knowledge firepower. Arm yourself:

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