Lent Madness: Patrick vs. Constance

In yet another male/female battle of the sexes (just kidding so don’t get unduly offended) Patrick takes on Constance. Who will win? Who knows. But at least I didn’t give Patrick the unfair advantage by setting up this confrontation on March 17th.

In recent action Clare trounced Gregory the Illuminator 70% to 30% to advance to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen. Click Lent Madness 2011 to view the updated tournament bracket. And when Lent Madness returns on Monday morning we’ll have an interesting matchup between David and Florence Nightingale.

Patrick (390-461) was born in Southwest England and grew up in a Christian family — his father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest. When he was 16 he was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. It was during his six years of captivity that his faith flourished and he began to pray regularly. Toward the end of this time he speaks of having heard a voice telling him that he would soon return home to England. Thus emboldened, he fled his master and traveled 200 miles to a port city. When he returned to England he decided to study for the priesthood.

Patrick recounts in his Confessions a vision a few years after returning home:

I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: “The Voice of the Irish.” As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.

Thus in 435 he was sent as a missionary bishop to Ireland. Once there he set himself up in the northern town of Armagh where he started a school and from where he journeyed throughout the country. Patrick is, of course, famously identified with Ireland and legends about his life and ministry abound. It is said that he used the three-leaf clover to explain the doctrine of the Trinity and drove all the snakes out of Ireland. And, whether or not he actually wrote it, the poem known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate has been attributed to Patrick.

Collect for Patrick Almighty God, who in your providence chose your servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of you: Grant us so to walk in that light, that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen.

Constance was a 19th century American nun of the Anglican Order of St. Mary who was the head of a convent in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1878 Memphis was struck by a deadly epidemic of Yellow Fever. So many people fled that the city actually lost it’s charter for the next fourteen years. A group of nuns — both Anglican and Roman — stayed in the city (despite having ample opportunity to leave) to minister to the poor and destitute who could not afford to flee. She was the first of 38 nuns to die, a group known as the Martyrs of Memphis.

When the epidemic began the Sisters, who had come to Memphis in 1873 to found a girl’s school next to the Cathedral, led by Constance immediately organized relief work among the sick. At its height, 200 people per day were dying and in all 5,000 died of the fever.

Collect for Constance We give you thanks and praise, O God of compassion, for the heroic witness of Constance and her companions, who, in a time of plague and pestilence, were steadfast in their care for the sick and the dying, and loved not their own lives, even unto death. Inspire in us a like love and commitment to those in need, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


One Comment on “Lent Madness: Patrick vs. Constance”

  1. Bob Chapman says:

    But, it was appropriate to remember Patrick on this day.
    Lúireach Pádraig does make reference to Christ’s incarnation.

    In case you want a slightly different, but Christian, take on Patrick, the Orthodox also remember him. http://orthodoxwiki.org/Patrick_of_Ireland

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