The Paw Print
March 17 is the last day of spring break…. but what else does the day bring to mind? Luck O’ the Irish, Erin Go Braugh! Kiss me; I’m Irish! Pot O’ Gold at the end of the Rainbow! Green Beer…These are all timeless sayings and traditions that go with St. Patrick’s Day.
So what is the real story behind this holiday?
According to The 100 Most Important Events in Christian History by A. Kenneth Curtis et al, it began around the year 390 in Britain, when a boy named Patrick was born to Christian parents.
When he was sixteen, Patrick was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave, to work as a swineherd. After a period of praying ardently, Patrick was able to escape slavery. He travelled 200 miles to the coast on foot. Upon reaching the coast he found passage on a ship and was given work as a dog tender because the cargo was an entire load of hounds. Patrick travelled through France and down to a Mediterranean monastery.
Upon returning to his homeland, Patrick began having dreams of Irish children begging him to come and preach the Gospel to them.
However, Patrick felt inadequate in his understanding of the faith, so he returned to France to study in a monastery, after which, he returned to Ireland around the year 432.
Prior to this, a British monk by the name of Palladius had come as a missionary to the Irish but had very little success. Patrick, on the on the other hand, was able to have much more courage to preach the Gospel because of his understanding of the Irish from his years as a slave.
Legend clouds most of Patrick’s life, but it is a fact that he established around 300 churches and that during his time in Ireland around 120,000 people converted to Christianity.
There was some opposition to Patrick’s work from a fierce pagan tribe known as the Druids, but on the whole, common village peoples received the message gladly.
In addition, Patrick used nature, which the people had previously worshipped, to teach them about God. The best example is that of the shamrock being used to represent the Holy Trinity.
The Irish understood Patrick to be acting on behalf of God when establishing truth. After thirty selfless years of serving the Irish people, Patrick died around 460.
The strong Catholic tradition of Ireland didn’t come until later in the 1100’s, when it was approved through action possibly by Pope Simplicius when Henry II was given control of Britain.
After Catholicism was established in Ireland, Patrick was named a saint.There is a substantial amount of significance to St. Patrick’s Day.
St. Patrick’s Day really celebrates the Christian origins that are in Ireland, the roots of which largely come from the work of St. Patrick. Because of its origins, St. Patrick’s Day is truly a special holiday.
When you go out and celebrate St. Patricks’ Day this year, hopefully you’ll take a moment to think about the real reason for the holiday. Maybe even toast St. Patrick with some green beer.