St. Patrick

It is believed that St. Patrick was born in fifth-century Britain to Roman parents. When he was sixteen, he was captured by pirates and taken to Ireland. There he was sold as a slave. His owner sent him to tend his flocks on the mountains. Patrick had very little food and clothing. Yet he took good care of the animals in rain, snow and ice. Patrick was so lonely on the hillside that he turned often in prayer to Jesus and his Mother Mary. His life was hard and unfair. However, Patrick's trust in God grew stronger all the time.

Later, when he escaped from Ireland, he studied to become a priest. But Patrick always felt that he had to go back to Ireland to bring that pagan land to Christ. At last his wish came true. He became a priest and then a bishop. It was while St. Celestine I was pope that Patrick went back to Ireland. How happy he was to bring the Good News of the true God to the people who once had held him a slave.

Right from the start, Patrick suffered much. His relatives and friends wanted him to quit before the pagan Irish killed him. Yet the saint kept on preaching about Jesus. He traveled from one village to another. He seldom rested, and he performed great penances for those people whom he so loved. Before he died, the whole nation was Christian.

Despite such great success, St. Patrick never grew proud. He called himself a poor sinner and gave all the praises to God. Patrick died in 461. 

"How did so great and salutary a gift come to me, the gift of knowing and loving God, though at the cost of homeland and family?"



St. Patrick uses shamrock in an illustrative parable



Legend (dating to 1726, according to the OED) credits St. Patrick with teaching the Irish about the doctrine of the Holy Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a three-leafed plant, using it to illustrate the Christian teaching of three persons in one God. For this reason, shamrocks are a central symbol for St Patrick's Day.



The shamrock had been seen as sacred in the pre-Christian days in Ireland. Due to its green color and overall shape, many viewed it as representing rebirth and eternal life. Three was a sacred number in the pagan religion and there were a number of "Triple Goddesses" in ancient Ireland, including Brigid, Ériu, and the Morrigan.


St. Patrick banishes all snakes from Ireland

The absence of snakes in Ireland gave rise to the legend that they had all been banished by St. Patrick chasing them into the sea after they attacked him during a 40-day fast he was undertaking on top of a hill. This hagiographic theme draws on the Biblical account of the staff of the prophet Moses. In Exodus 7:8–7:13, Moses and Aaron use their staffs in their struggle with Pharaoh's sorcerers, the staffs of each side morphing into snakes. Aaron's snake-staff prevails by consuming the other snakes.

However, all evidence suggests that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes, as on insular "New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland and Antarctica... So far, no serpent has successfully migrated across the open ocean to a new terrestrial home" such as from Scotland at one point only eight miles from Ireland, where a few native species have lived, "the venomous adder, the grass snake, and the smooth snake", as National Geographic notes, and although sea snake species separately exist "At no time has there ever been any suggestion of snakes in Ireland, so [there was] nothing for St. Patrick to banish", says naturalist Nigel Monaghan, keeper of natural history at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, who has searched extensively through Irish fossil collections and records.

The only biological candidate species for appearing like a native snake in Ireland is the slow worm, actually a legless lizard, a non-native species more recently found in The Burren region of County Clare as recorded since the early 1970s, as noted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of Ireland, which suspects it was deliberately introduced in the 1960s. So far, the slow worm's territory in the wild has not spread beyond the Burren's limestone region which is rich in wildlife.

One suggestion, by fiction author Betty Rhodes, is that "snakes" referred to the serpent symbolism of the Druids during that time and place, as evinced on coins minted in Gaul. Chris Weigant connects "big tattoos of snakes" on Druids' arms as "Irish schoolchildren are taught" with the way in which, in the legend of St. Patrick banishing snakes, the "story goes to the core of Patrick's sainthood and his core mission in Ireland."

Because of his association with snakes, St. Patrick is associated with the deity Damballa in Voodoo.


St. Patrick's crosses

There are two main types of crosses associated with St. Patrick, the cross pattée and the saltire. The cross pattée is the more traditional association, while the association with the saltire dates from 1783 and the Order of St. Patrick.

The cross pattée has long been associated with St. Patrick, for reasons that are uncertain. One possible reason is that bishops' mitres in Ecclesiastical heraldry often appear surmounted by a cross pattée.

 An example of this can be seen on the old crest of the Brothers of St. Patrick. As St. Patrick was the founding bishop of the Irish church, the symbol may have become associated with him. St. Patrick is traditionally portrayed in the vestments of a bishop, and his mitre and garments are often decorated with a cross pattée.

The cross pattée retains its link to St. Patrick to the present day. For example,it appears on the coat of arms of both the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Armagh[82] and the Church of Ireland Archdiocese of Armagh. This is on account of St. Patrick being regarded as the first bishop of the Diocese of Armagh. It is also used by Down District Council which has its headquarters in Downpatrick, the reputed burial place at St. Patrick.

Saint Patrick's Saltire is a red saltire on a white field. It is used in the insignia of the Order of Saint Patrick, established in 1783, and after the Acts of Union 1800 it was combined with the Saint George's Cross of England and the Saint Andrew's Cross of Scotland to form the Union Flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. A saltire was intermittently used as a symbol of Ireland from the seventeenth century, but without reference to Saint Patrick.


It was formerly a common custom to wear a cross made of paper or ribbon on St Patrick's Day. Surviving examples of such badges come in many colours and they were worn upright rather than as saltires.

Thomas Dinely, an English traveller in Ireland in 1681, remarked that "the Irish of all stations and condicõns were crosses in their hatts, some of pins, some of green ribbon." Jonathan Swift, writing to "Stella" of Saint Patrick's Day 1713, said "the Mall was so full of crosses that I thought all the world was Irish". In the 1740s, the badges pinned were multicoloured interlaced fabric. In the 1820s, they were only worn by children, with simple multicoloured daisy patterns. In the 1890s, they were almost extinct, and a simple green Greek cross inscribed in a circle of paper (similar to the Ballina crest pictured). The Irish Times in 1935 reported they were still sold in poorer parts of Dublin, but fewer than those of previous years "some in velvet or embroidered silk or poplin, with the gold paper cross entwined with shamrocks and ribbons".


St. Patrick's walking stick grows into a living tree

Some Irish legends involve the Oilliphéist, the Caoránach, and the Copóg Phádraig. During his evangelising journey back to Ireland from his parent's home at Birdoswald, he is understood to have carried with him an ash wood walking stick or staff. He thrust this stick into the ground wherever he was evangelising and at the place now known as Aspatria (ash of Patrick) the message of the dogma took so long to get through to the people there that the stick had taken root by the time he was ready to move on.


St. Patrick speaks with ancient Irish ancestors

The twelfth-century work Acallam na Senórach tells of Patrick being met by two ancient warriors, Caílte mac Rónáin and Oisín, during his evangelical travels. The two were once members of Fionn mac Cumhaill's warrior band the Fianna, and somehow survived to Patrick's time. In the work St. Patrick seeks to convert the warriors to Christianity, while they defend their pagan past. The heroic pagan lifestyle of the warriors, of fighting and feasting and living close to nature, is contrasted with the more peaceful, but unheroic and non-sensual life offered by Christianity.


Folk piety

The version of the details of his life generally accepted by modern scholars, as elaborated by later sources, popular writers and folk piety, typically includes extra details such that Patrick, originally named Maewyn Succat, was born in 387 AD in (among other candidate locations, see above) Banna venta Berniae to the parents Calpernius and Conchessa. At the age of 16 in 403 AD Saint Patrick was captured and enslaved by the Irish and was sent to Ireland to serve as a slave herding and tending sheep in Dalriada. During his time in captivity Saint Patrick became fluent in the Irish language and culture. After six years Saint Patrick escaped captivity after hearing a voice urging him to travel to a distant port where a ship would be waiting to take him back to Britain. On his way back to Britain Saint Patrick was captured again and spent 60 days in captivity in Tours, France. During his short captivity within France, Saint Patrick learned about French monasticism. At the end of his second captivity Saint Patrick had a vision of Victoricus giving him the quest of bringing Christianity to Ireland. Following his second captivity Saint Patrick returned to Ireland and, using the knowledge of Irish language and culture that he gained during his first captivity, brought Christianity and monasticism to Ireland in the form of more than 300 churches and over 100,000 Irish baptised.

According to the Annals of the Four Masters, an early-modern compilation of earlier annals, his corpse soon became an object of conflict in the Battle for the Body of St. Patrick.

Primary Sources :

wikipedia/st.patrick Find More about St.Patrick's Day
The Most Ancient Lives of Saint Patrick
St Patrick's Purgatory
Saint Patrick's Confessio





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