Friday 17th March: St Patrick, (from the Liturgical Calendar) was born very probably in the early years of the fifth century in the Roman colony of Britain. He was taken captive at the age of sixteen and brought to Ireland where he was sold as a slave. He tended herds on Slemish mountain for six years. His captivity had a very positive effect on his spiritual life. He prayed many times each day, his faith growing stronger and his love and reverence for God increasing. He escaped back home at the age of twenty-two. It was obvious to him that God was calling him to return to convert the Irish. The voice of the Irish was calling him to come and walk among them once more. He studied probably in France, returned to Ireland as a bishop c. 457-61 or as early as 432 according to another tradition. His mission was not immediately greatly successful but eventually he would make a tremendous number of converts. Two writings survive: the Letter to Coroticus, a protest to the soldiers of a British prince who had killed some converts and sold others as slaves, and his Confession, written near the end of his life, showing him as one living by the faith he preached and allowing Christ to direct his whole life. He died in 491, though again other dates have been suggested, 480 or as early as 461.
Saturday, 18th March: St. Cyril of Jerusalem, bishop and doctor of the Church, 315-386. Bishop of Jerusalem. He excelled as a catechist and administrator and suffered exile in his fight against heresy.