Growing up in Ireland in the 1960s, I was told my fair share of stories about St. Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, whose feast day is being celebrated all over the world today. The story that stuck with me is about the Easter fire.
The then custom in Ireland was that the High King and his druids would light the first fire on the Hill of Tara, the king’s home. Then, those who saw it would light theirs. Those who saw those fires would light theirs in turn and quite quickly, all fires were lit across the island. The weekend for this ritual coincided with the Christian feast of Easter.
Patrick was at Slane, close to Tara and lit his Paschal or Easter fire, in defiance of the custom. The druids were incensed and Patrick was brought before King Laoghaire to answer for ruining their ritual. He was unrepentant and preached the gospel to the king, explaining the symbolism of his fire. To cut a long story short, Patrick impressed the king and many of his court and won the king’s protection to spread his mission throughout the island.
The story illustrates the importance of standing up for what you believe in and showing integrity. Despite facing almost certain death, for kings in those days were all-powerful, he spoke to his truth. Most often fear of what could happen holds us back from telling it like it is. Experience shows, this fear is most often unfounded.