Thursday, March 11

St. Patrick's Day History

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17 every year. 
St. Patrick was a real person and we celebrate his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death, which was in the fifth century. 

The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years. On St. Patrick's Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon.

St Patrick is known as the patron saint of Ireland. 
True, he was not born Irish, but he has become an integral part of the Irish heritage, through his service across Ireland in the 5th century.

Patrick was born in the later half of the 4th century AD. There are differing views about the exact year and place of his birth.

Patrick was the son of Calpurnius, who was Roman-British. He grew up as other normal kids in Britain. However, one day a band of Irish pirates landed in south Wales and kidnapped Patrick along with many others, who were then sold into slavery in Ireland. 

Patrick was in Ireland for 6 years, most of that time spent imprisoned. This is the time it is said he dreamed of having seen God. Legend says, he was then dictated by God to escape Ireland.

Patrick did finally escape and went back to Britain, and onto France. There he joined a monastery and studied under St. Germain, the bishop of Auxerre. He spent around 12 years in the study of religious faith and God.  
He later became a bishop and dreamed that the Irish were calling him back to Ireland to tell them about God. The Confessio, Patrick's spiritual autobiography, is the most important document regarding this. It tells of a dream after his return to Britain, in which one Victoricus delivered him a letter headed "The Voice of the Irish."

"So, how is it that in Hibernia, where they never had any knowledge of God but, always, until now, cherished idols and unclean things, they are lately become a people of the Lord, and are called children of God; the sons of the Irish and the daughters of the chieftains are to be seen as monks and virgins of Christ."

Following God's request, Patrick returned to Ireland with the Pope's blessings. There he converted the Gaelic Irish, who were then mostly Pagans, to Christianity.  Indeed, Patrick was quite successful at winning converts. Through active preaching, he made important converts even among the royal families
This fact upset the Celtic Druids. Patrick was arrested several times over the next 20 years as he had traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid him in his conversion. He developed a native clergy, fostered the growth of monasticism, established dioceses, and held church councils.

By the end of the 7th century, Patrick had become a legendary figure, and the legends have continued to grow since then. 
There are many legends associated with St Patrick. It is said that he used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the Trinity; (this is one of my favorites) which refers to the combination of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. 
Legend also has that; Saint Patrick drove out all the venomous snakes in Ireland into the sea where they drowned.  Patrick died on March 17, AD 461. That day has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day ever since. The day is to celebrate the universal baptizing of Ireland. 

 Though originally a Catholic holy day, St. Patrick's Day has evolved into more of a secular holiday. Or, rather, 'be an Irish Day '. And the Irish have borne it as part of their national tradition in everywhere they populated and prospered. 
The wearing of the green

The Catholic feast day for this most loved of Irish saints has become a holiday in celebration of the Irish and Irish culture. The leprechaun, a Celtic fairy, has become entrenched as a chief symbol for this holiday, as is the shamrock.   Other icons are the green color, the leprechaun, the pot of gold and Blarney's stone.

Here's wishing all your days are touched with a little Irish luck!


Other Blog Posts:

Corned Beef and Cabbage

St. Patrick's Day and Sauerkraut Balls

St. Patrick's Day Cookie Recipe

Irish Colcannon 

May luck be your companion
May friends stand by your side
May history remin us
Of Ireland's faith and pride
May god bless you with happiness
And may love and faith abide.

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