17 - St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick of
Ireland is one of the world's most popular saints. Along
with St. Nicholas and St. Valentine, the secular world
shares our love of these saints. This is also a day when
everyone's Irish. There are many legends and stories of
St. Patrick, but this is his story.
Patrick was born around 385 in Wales, probably
Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa,
who were Romans living in Britian in charge of the
colonies. As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured
during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to
herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of
Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices
of the people who held him. During his captivity, he
turned to God in prayer. Patrick's captivity lasted until
he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from
God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the
coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to
Britian, where he reunited with his family. He had
another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling
out to him "We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk
among us once more."
He began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained
by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had
studied under for years. Later, Patrick was ordained a
bishop, and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He
arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. One legend
says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who
tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the
chieftain) after he was unable to move his arm until he
became friendly to Patrick.
He began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland,
converting many. Patrick and his disciples preached and
converted thousands and began building churches all over
the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms
converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick's message.
Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40
years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for
God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty,
traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17,
461. He died at Saul, where he had built the first
church. Each year marh
17 is celebrated by Irish people all around the world.
Why a Shamrock?
Patrick used the
shamrock to explain the Trinity, and has been associated
with him and the Irish since that time.
Patrick was a humble, pious,
gentle man, whose love, total devotion and trust
in God should be a shining example to each of us.
He feared nothing, not even death, so complete
was his trust in God, and of the importance of
Patrick is most
known the world over for having driven the snakes from
Ireland. Different tales tell of his standing upon a
hill, using a wooden staff to drive the serpents into the
sea, banishing them forever from the shores of Ireland.
While it is true there are no snakes in Ireland, chances
are that there never have been since the time the island
was seperated from the rest of the continent at the end
of the ice age. As in many old pagan religions serpent
symbols were common, and possibly even worshipped.
Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of
putting an end to that pagan practice.