Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Saint Patrick was a Christian missionary and the Apostle of Ireland. He was born around 385 AD near Dumbarton in Scotland the son of a Roman nobleman. His real name is believed to have been Maewyn Succat; his baptismal name is Patricius. He was just 16 when his village was attacked. He was captured and sold into slavery in Ireland where he worked as a shepherd. After six years of being beaten and treated poorly, he escaped to Gaul (present day France). He returned to Ireland as a missionary where he is credited for converting the population to Catholicism.

Patrick was quite successful at winning converts. And this fact upset the Celtic Druids. Patrick was arrested several times, but escaped each time. He traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid him in his conversion of the Irish country to Christianity.

Some of this lore includes the belief that Patrick raised people from the dead. He also is said to have given a sermon from a hilltop that drove all the snakes from Ireland. Of course, no snakes were ever native to Ireland, and some people think this is a metaphor for the conversion of the pagans. Though originally a Catholic holy day, St. Patrick's Day has evolved into more of a secular holiday.

His mission in Ireland lasted for thirty years. After that time, Patrick retired to County Down. He died on March 17 in AD 461. That day has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day ever since

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 would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink, and feast—on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

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