Patrick Has His Day

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A stained-glass window of Saint Patrick at Saint Benin’s Church, Ireland

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. Most of those who celebrate, use the occasion to parade around, frequently in outlandish costumes, wear green somewhere on their body, and many use this day to drink intoxicants, some of them are dyed green.

Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador (for provincial government employees), and the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat.

It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora around the world, Popular in the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.

There are all kinds of stories surrounding this 5th century Catholic Bishop. Some claim he was born in Scotland, others, south of Hadrian’s wall, around 387 AD. His real name was Maewyn Succat. It was his extensive missionary work in Ireland for which Patrick is famous. During the thirty years of work there, he supposedly converted over 135,000 people, established 300 churches, and consecrated 350 bishops. Patrick died on March 17, 461.

The story has young Maewyn, at age sixteen, captured by Irish raiders and spending several years as a slave in Ireland. It was during this time he learned various rituals, customs, and language of Druids. It was these people that he eventually evangelized. Maewyn was said, to have a dream in which God spoke to him, saying, “Your ship is ready.” Patrick was then able to escape Ireland by ship. He returned to his family, studied and entered the Catholic church, like his father and grandfather before him. He later returned to Ireland as a missionary and worked in the north and west of the country.

He claimed another dream in which he received a letter, labeled the “voice of the Irish.” When he opened it, he heard the voices of all those whom he had met in Ireland begging him to return.

Saint Patrick returned to Ireland to evangelize the native people to Christ. He incorporated many of their pagan symbols into symbols of Christianity. The Irish 3 leaf clover, the shamrock for example, represented the “trinity”. Green became the “in color”.

According to popular legend, St Patrick rid Ireland of snakes. However, it is thought that there have been no snakes in Ireland since the last ice age. The “snakes” that St Patrick banished from Ireland, may refer to the druids or pagan worshipers of snake or serpent gods.

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A crowd gathered to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day – ©bigstockphoto.com/Stu99

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We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English.” ~ Winston Churchill

Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” ~ William Butler Yeats

Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.” ~ John Boyle O’Reilly

Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.” ~ Saint Patrick

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