Little Bits of History

Wearing of the Green

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 17, 2010

St. Patrick

March 17, 493 or 461: St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland along with St. Brigid and St. Columba, is believed to have died on this date with the year under strenuous debate. More recent findings lean toward the later date. Legend also has it that Patrick arrived in Ireland as a slave on this date back in 432 as well.

We do know that he was born along the west coast of Great Britain or maybe France. He was captured [according to his autobiography] and along with thousands of others taken and sold as slaves in Ireland. He was not religious prior to his capture but his years of captivity strengthened his faith. He had been purchased by a Druidic high priest and so Patrick learned both the native Celtic language and the Druid customs.

He escaped at the age of 22 with the help of an angel. He went to Auverre, France and lived in a monastery for twelve years taking the name Patrick, or in Old Irish spelled Pádraig. He then went back to Ireland. He was not the first Christian in Ireland, being preceded by both Secundus and Palladius but he was the most influential.

He stated that he lived in daily fear of a violent death or re-enslavement. Legend has it that he banished snakes from Ireland, but post-glacial Ireland did not have snakes. It is possibly a metaphorical allusion to the snakes of druidic use. He also is said to have used the shamrock as an allegory for the Trinity. In 1753, this date became the official St. Patrick’s Day.

“St. Patrick… one of the few saints whose feast day presents the opportunity to get determinedly whacked and make a fool of oneself all under the guise of acting Irish.” – Charles M. Madigan

“St. Patrick’s Day is an enchanted time – a day to begin transforming winter’s dreams into summer’s magic.” – Attributed to Adrienne Cook

“May St. Patrick guard you wherever you go, and guide you in whatever you do and may his loving protection be a blessing to you always.” – Irish blessing

“Before I was humiliated I was like a stone that lies in deep mud, and he who is mighty came and in his compassion raised me up and exalted me very high and placed me on the top of the wall.” – Saint Patrick

Also on this day, in 1969 Golda Meir became the fourth Prime Minister of Israel.

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