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I Am Patrick: The Patron Saint of Ireland {docudrama review}

Saint Patrick is one of the most popular saints in the Catholic Church. His feast day is celebrated in March by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. And since his feast day falls just a few days before my birthday, I have a special liking for him too. However, much of what we think we know about this saint is legend. I Am Patrick is a new docudrama that seeks to find the historical man behind all the myths.

I Am Patrick: the Patron Saint of Ireland docudrama

I received a complimentary screener link to view this movie; all opinions expressed are my own.

I Am Patrick overview

I Am Patrick begins with the great saint (played by John Rhys-Davies) at the end of his life, writing a defense of his life and work. This is interspersed with his memories of his earlier days, and interviews with experts on St. Patrick’s life.

John-Rhys Davies plays Saint Patrick writing his Confessio

Patrick grew up as a Roman citizen on the west coast of Britain in the fifth century. As a young man, he is captured by Irish raiders. He spends the next six years in slavery in Ireland, but uses his time as a shepherd to pray and draw close to God. Away from the bustle of his life in a Roman villa, he is able to hear God’s voice, like Moses in the wilderness.

I tended sheep every day, and I prayed frequently during the day. More and more the love of God increased, and my sense of awe before God. Faith grew, and my spirit was moved, so that in one day I would pray up to one hundred times, and at night perhaps the same. I even remained in the woods and on the mountain, and I would rise to pray before dawn in snow and ice and rain. I never felt the worse for it, and I never felt lazy – as I realise now, the spirit was burning in me at that time. ~ Confessio, quoted in I Am Patrick

Slave tending sheep in Ireland

Then God in a dream tells him to return home, and guides him across Ireland to the coast to catch a boat back to Britain. The journey is not easy, but God continually provided for Patrick and his companions.

Back home, he is given a hero’s welcome. However, Patrick has changed and cannot simply return to his old life. He enters the priesthood, going to Gaul to study. When he’s ordained a bishop a decade later, Patrick announces he’s returning to Ireland. His family objects, but Patrick feels this is God’s call. He know the language and customs of the Irish people, and so he boards a boat and returns to the place of his captivity.

There, village by village, Patrick preaches and converts the people to Christianity. He continues to face opposition, both from Ireland and from Britain. His fellow bishops in Britain dislike his success (and possibly his methods of teaching) in Ireland. They bring charges of past sins against him and try to recall him to Britain, but Patrick refuses to leave. God has called him to Ireland, and so he writes his Confessio.

Patron saint of Ireland

My thoughts on I Am Patrick

I enjoyed watching this movie and learning more about St. Patrick. The mix of interview and dramatization kept the story moving ahead at a quick pace. The interviews filled in extra details that are hard to tell in story form. There was no mention of snakes or shamrocks. Patrick is portrayed as a real man who lived and worked within a specific time period.

I was unaware that Saint Patrick had actually written anything himself. I Am Patrick is based on his Confessio, an open letter written in Latin to ecclesiastical superiors in Britain to answer unspecified charges. The Confessio is a brief, readable document which is quoted throughout the movie.

My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers. I am looked down upon by many. My father was Calpornius. He was a deacon; his father was Potitus, a priest, who lived at Bannavem Taburniae. His home was near there, and that is where I was taken prisoner. I was about sixteen at the time. At that time, I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity in Ireland, along with thousands of others.

Because I Am Patrick is a docudrama, we choose not to watch it with the girls. It would be fine to watch with teenagers, and I might still show it to Sunshine (age 12). Younger children will likely find the interviews boring. Patrick is also played by three difference actors, which flashbacks, and my younger girls sometimes find that distracting or hard to follow.

I Am Patrick movie review

Although Patrick is a slave for years, there was actually less violence in the movie than I expected. Once brief scene shows a young woman (a Christian convert) who has been killed by raiders. In another scene, one of the bishops says “d— you,” which my husband and I thought rather inappropriate. There’s also a brief scene about the druids which implies they’ve sacrificed a lamb (something my husband found stereotypical and unnecessary).

I have to say, I also thoroughly enjoyed the scenery in this movie. I Am Patrick takes place in remote but beautiful areas of Ireland, including the coast.

Faithfully rooted in his own writings and historically accurate storytelling, I Am Patrick offers a compelling look at the saint often called ‘The Apostle of Ireland.’ St. Patrick overcame his own failings and experienced a challenging yet profound conversion and then devoted his life to share the Gospel with zeal, joy and love. This film tells his story with truth, candor and beauty.~ Lisa M. Hendey, author of The Secret of the Shamrock

Where to Watch

I Am Patrick will be in select theatres on March 17 and 18, 2020. To find tickets or watch the trailer, drop by the website. You can also see short videos with John Rhys-Davies talking about the film, and a teaser about filming in Ireland. St. Patrick’s Confessio and Letter to Coroticus are also available there, in beautiful PDFs with pages that look like parchments. (This would be great for using with teens in a lesson about St. Patrick for homeschool, school or catechism classes.)

Grab your husband, friends or teens and plan a movie night for St. Patrick’s Day. For ideas for celebrating with kids (or fun snacks to have before or after the movie), check out my list of St. Patty’s Day treats and crafts.

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