St. Patrick’s successor Eamon Martin says Ireland’s saint is a patron for the world and trafficking victims
Archbishop Eamon Martin – the ‘successor of St. Patrick’ at Armagh – has hailed Ireland’s patron as a ‘global saint’ noting his early life as teenage human trafficking victim.
In a message ahead of St. Patrick’s Day the Derry-born Primate of All-Ireland said: “When people from every continent like to trace even their slightest connections with Ireland and the Irish, St. Patrick can truly be hailed as ‘a saint for all the world’.
“Our patron saint’s name has been carried around the world by generations of Irish emigrants and missionaries - his appeal remains both local and global.
"In a special way therefore I extend greetings this year to the many migrants who have recently come to Ireland. Céad míle fáilte romhaibh!”
The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland referred to how St. Patrick had suffered the abuse and indignity of slavery as a boy.
"St. Patrick’s personal experience of being trafficked to this island as a teenage slave had a deep and lifelong impact on him. The trauma of being uprooted from family and friends at such an early age gave him a particular empathy for victims of human trafficking.
"Patrick’s captivity transformed and shaped his whole life and his relationships with God and others. In his slavery and isolation he discovered through prayer a warm and personal friendship with God which he instinctively wanted to communicate to everyone he met,” said Archbishop Martin.
The Archbishop went on to refer to how Patrick suffered further tribulations when he returned to Ireland as bishop sixteen centuries ago.
"He was ready to give his life completely to his new ‘flock’ in Ireland, even though as he says himself in his writings, he had to endure much hardship, many insults and taunts for being ‘a foreigner’ (Confession of Saint Patrick, 37),” said the senior Derry cleric.
This week a replica of the sculpture, ‘Let the Oppressed Go Free’ by Tim Schmalz, which portrays the reality of human trafficking and the forced migration of people, arrived at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh.
A similar replica of the sculpture is also being welcomed this week by Cardinal Timothy Dolan in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York.
Archbishop Martin suggested that alongside Sudanese St. Josephine Bakhita, St. Patrick can perhaps be seen ‘as a patron for those around our world today who are victims of human trafficking’.
He said: “St. Patrick is truly a saint for modern times. His witness and courage speaks to all the world. He challenges us to listen out for the cry of the poor, the ordeal of the migrant, the loneliness of those displaced through war and violence.
"His experience raises awareness of the injustice of human trafficking which shockingly continues here in Ireland, North and South, in 2023. If we seriously wish to trace our connections with St. Patrick this week, then we must open our hearts and minds to those who are struggling to survive such cruelty and exploitation in today’s world.”