Light the Beacons: St Patrick’s Day 2024

Light the Beacons is the theme for this year’s annual St Patrick’s Day festival which will focus on praying for a rekindling of the fire of faith that Patrick lit in Ireland almost 1600 years ago. 

The diocesan celebrations are open to all and will take place on Saturday 16 March. The festival will continue with special prayer services in parishes on Sunday 17 March.

Our guest preacher at the Festival Service at 11.45am in Down Cathedral is Rt Revd Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster. (Read more about Bishop Jill here).

Bishop David says: “Bishop Jill’s scholarly and yet deeply spiritual insights into the lives of the saints including St Patrick (see her book Lighting the Beacons: Kindling the Flame of Faith in our Hearts). mean she is the ideal person to encourage us to pray as a diocese for rekindling of the fire of faith that Patrick lit in Ireland almost 1600 years ago. 

“In 433AD in defiance of the pagan king, Laoise, Patrick lit a Paschal fire to celebrate Easter. It was said that if that Paschal fire was not put out on that day it would never be extinguished. Almost 1600 years later the fire of the gospel has not been put out but needs fanned into flame in Ireland again.” 

Bishop David will light a symbolic fire at the end of the Festival Service and a representative from each church in the diocese will take a torch and a container of concentrated paraffin oil back to their parish.

On the evening of 17 March, St Patrick’s Day, every church large and small, will hold a special service of prayer for revival. With beacons lit, we’ll be asking God to light the fire of the gospel in Ireland and in that local church context once again.

Holy Communion at Saul and the Prayer Pilgrimage

We’re delighted that the preacher at Saul Church will be Revd Canon Bill Press, the rector of Knockbreda Parish. A prayer pilgrimage to Down Cathedral will follow the service and you are warmly invited to join this cross–community and often international band of pilgrims.


  • 9.15am: Holy Communion at Saul 
  • 10.15am: Prayer Pilgrimage from Saul to Downpatrick 
  • 11.45am: Festival Service in Down Cathedral with Bishop Jill Duff
  • Lighting of symbolic beacon and wreath laying ceremony at St Patrick’s Grave
  • 1.00pm: Complimentary ‘Picnic in the Pews’ 

Transport to Saul 

Please park along the Mall leading to the Cathedral in Downpatrick and board one of the private buses. 

Buses to the communion service depart between 8.15 and 8.45am. The last bus for the pilgrimage leaves at 9.45am. The last bus from Saul to the Cathedral leaves at 10.40 am.

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