Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 160 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Laetare and St. Patrick - Rector's Rambling for March 19, 2023

     Today is a day in which we ‘lighten up’ on the Liturgical calendar.  Yes, it is still Lent, but as you notice from the vestments and hangings, it is Rose Sunday, also known as  Lætáre Sunday, which is the latin for the opening words of the Introit at the beginning of the 10 AM Service.  Although it is still Lent, we lighten it up a bit by being reminded that in fact we Rejoice with Jerusalem for the gift of forgiveness.

And of course, we are also celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a luncheon after the 10 AM Service in the Undercroft.  Be sure to come down and join us.


The history of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland who was born in the second half of the 4th century, is inevitably sketchy.  Even his year of birth is uncertain, with some scholars hitting on 373 while others calculate 390.  Similarly, the place where St. Patrick was born cannot be confirmed.  It may have been lowland Scotland, but is equally likely to have been Wales, which was under Roman control at the time.

His father, Calpornius, was a Roman-British army officer and a deacon.  Despite this family involvement in the church, the young Patrick was not a believer.  His life was ordinary, and completely unexceptional, until the age of 16.  The young lad was kidnapped, along with many others, by Irish pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland.  According to his autobiographical Confessio, which survives, the next six years were spent imprisoned in the north of the island and he worked as a herdsmen of sheep and pigs on Mount Slemish in Co. Antrim.

During this period, he became increasingly religious.  He considered his kidnapping and imprisonment as a punishment for his lack of faith and spent a lot of time in prayer.  After a vision led him to stow away on a boat bound for Britain, Patrick escaped back to his family.  There he had a dream that the Irish were calling him back to Ireland to tell them about God.  This inspired him to return to Ireland as a priest.  It was some 12 years before he returned to Irish shores as a bishop sent with the Pope’s blessing.

The next chapter of the history of St. Patrick is better known than his earlier life.  He landed at Strangford Loch, Co. Down.  Although he is often credited with having brought Christianity to Ireland, he was not the first to have done so.  An earlier mission had seen Palladius preach to the Irish.

The history of St. Patrick is littered with periods of imprisonment when his teachings had upset local chieftains or Celtic Druids, but he always escaped or gained freedom by presenting his captors with gifts.  For twenty years he travelled the length and breadth of the island, baptizing people, and establishing monasteries, schools, and churches as he went.

By the time he died, on 17 March 461 (or 493, depending on which date you started your calculation), he left behind an organised church, the see of Armagh, and an island of Christians.  This date – 17 March – has been commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day ever since. ~ Edited from www.Irish-Genealogy-Toolkit.com/history-of-st-patrick.html