Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Are you wearing your green?

I am, so you can't pinch me :)  Today is St. Patrick's Day- March 17, 2013, and so I thought we should find out a little more about this St. Patrick fellow and why we all honor him.  St. Patrick is one of the 3 primary saints of Ireland, along with St. Brigid and St. Columba.  He is known as the Apostle of Ireland because he spread the doctrine of the Catholic Church throughout Ireland. He did a good job apparently, since over 80% of the country is Catholic. But did you know that St. Patrick was not Irish?

Patrick was born in Great Britain (the area was known as Cumbria at that time) and his parents were rather well to do.  When he was 16, Irish raiders attacked his parents estate and took him as a slave to Ireland.  For 6 years he was held captive and put to work as a herdsman.  During this time he became very religious and one day he heard a voice telling him his ship had come.  He escaped and walked 200 miles to the ports and made his way home.  Years later he had a vision that told him to return to Ireland.  He spent the next 15 years studying to become a priest and then returned to Ireland to minister to the Christians who were already there and explain Christianity to the pagans.  This teaching was the basis for the legends and myths of St. Patrick.

The Shamrock is synonymous with Ireland.  It was mostly due to St. Patrick that this simple plant is so popular.  St. Patrick used the 3-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity.  He explained the Father, Son and Holy Spirit all make up one God, just like the 3 petals all make up one shamrock.  Or something like that, it's been a while since I've been to church.  The pagan religion had also used the shamrock as a symbol, but their shamrocks were symbols of the Triple Goddesses and of birth, eternal life and rebirth.  It seems that the shamrock was just destined to be part of the Irish culture :)

Another of the main legends surrounding St. Patrick was that he banished all the snakes from Ireland.That's a great story.   Unfortunately, scientists have said that there is no evidence that there ever were any snakes on Ireland.  Oh well, it's a good story.  The "snakes" that St. Patrick banished were most likely the serpent symbols used by the Druids.  Catholics have used serpents as symbols of evil in many stories so it's most likely that he banished "evil" Druids from Ireland.

There, now we know a little more about St. Patrick and why he is so meshed with Ireland.  And everyone knows that Irish people are fun and happy people who like to have a pint of beer or two, so on St. Patrick's Day it makes sense that everyone wants to be a little Irish.  Who wouldn't ?!?     

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