Monday, February 5, 2007
St. Patrick's Day falls on March 17 every year. It is.A worldwide celebration of Ireland and everything Irish;A joyful resounding of "Erin Go Bragh"; A time for Parades and Jigs and fun;A world through green glasses, shamrocks and blessings abound…

Yet under all the green and excitement is the story of a man…… not even Irish, to whom the celebrations on March 17 are dedicated ! St. Patrick's Day is a tribute to the national hero of Ireland, and all the Irish people. St. Patrick, who dedicated his life to, and braved all odds to share his faith with, the people of Ireland, was born in the latter part of the 4th century to wealthy parents in Roman-ruled Britain. St. Patrick was christened Maewyn Succat, and renamed Patricius (later Anglicized to Patrick) by Pope Celestine.

When he just 16, marauding Irish brigands kidnapped St. Patrick and sold him in Ireland to an Irish chieftain. A slave for 6 years, St. Patrick herded cattle and spent a lonely, contemplative life in the Irish countryside, gaining in knowledge of the Celtic way of life, their language, their Druidic culture and their nature-based beliefs. Turning to religion, in his loneliness, St. Patrick is said to have experienced visions and voices telling him that it was time to leave Ireland. He escaped to Britain, and then moved to the Continent where he studied for 12 years under St. Germaine, Bishop of Auxerre in France. During this time, St. Patrick's prayerful life once more led him to see visions, and the voices urged him to return to Ireland and to take the light and redemption of Christ to the Irish.

St. Patrick returned to the island of his captive life around AD 432, preaching to the Irish and easily converting them by the thousands. Knowledge of the language and culture made St. Patrick's task easier, as did his clever approach to converting the Irish to Christianity - St. Patrick never attempted to stamp out Irish rites and rituals. Instead, he blended them with Christian customs and teachings thus winning people over easily. We can see the evidence of this in the Celtic Cross and the bonfire at Easter. Opposition from the Druids caused St. Patrick to be arrested many times, but he always escaped. For 30 years he traveled extensively, preaching Christianity and converting thousands. St. Patrick set up several schools and churches facilitating the progress of his mission. St. Patrick's brave and enlightened journey came to an end when he died on March 17, AD 461.
As with all saints, whose feast days are celebrated on the anniversary of their death, the church named March 17 as St. Patrick's feast day.

Since then, in his honor, the Irish remember St. Patrick on the anniversary of his death, observe every March 17 as a religious holiday and commemorate it as St. Patrick's Day. It is St. Patrick's efforts, his dedication and his love for the Irish people that are recalled and celebrated every March 17 on St. Patrick's Day, and it is his inspiration that is sought every March 17, in today's difficult world. If the national faith of Ireland is Catholicism and 93 % of its people Catholic, if there is indeed a St. Patrick's Day to celebrate Irish traditions and customs, Ireland owes it to Maewyn Succat, who learnt to forgive and heal the wounds of victimization and by doing so, made the world of love a possibility.


posted by Gerry at Monday, February 05, 2007 |