The True Story of St. Patrick's Day
The true nature of who St. Patrick is differs greatly with the modern day secular celebrations of St. Patrick: green beer, revelry, and being Irish for a day has nothing to do with the real story of St. Patrick. The real story is much more fascinating than the made up one. I would say that St. Patrick's story it is one of the first epic stories that originated in Western Europe. It is the most important story ever to happen to Ireland- the incredible story of St. Patrick. There is much mystery surrounding the saga of St. Patrick. I will attempt to dispel some of the untruths and shed some light on the most unbelievable parts to his story.
Many people know that St. Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland, but most don't know that he was not even a native of Ireland. He is actualyl English- or Roman English as his father was a Christian minister in England during the Roman Empire's occupation of the country. St. Patrick's name wasn't even Patrick at all. It was Maewyn Succat- but he did not care for the name, so he chose Patricius (a Romanized/Latin version of Patrick). St. Patrick was also known by other names including: Magonus, Succetus, and Cothirthiacus.
But, we all know him famously at Patrick or Saint Patrick. St. Patrick is not considered a true canonized Catholic Saint, per se. That's because St. Patrick was not really Catholic at all. He was a leader of the Irish church of his own making, influenced by his father's version of Christianity & other contemporary influences of the time. However, because of his devotion to his faith and bringing Christianity to Ireland- he is highly regarded by all of Ireland and now revered by the entire Catholic Church.
St. Patrick's Journey to Ireland & Beyond
St. Patrick was not really into religion as a child, even though his father was a priest in the early Church. But at 16, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave. He became a sheppard while he was a slave, but also converted to Christianity while a slave for 6 years. He tried to escape several times, before he finally escaped Ireland. He fled to France, where he was later captured by the French.
While in France- Patrick studied about the monastic life, and deepened his understanding of Christianity. Patrick had a vision, which told him to go back to Ireland to preach the Gospel there to convert the Irish. Ireland was largely pagan at the time & commonly practiced druidism and nature worship. Originally when Patrick began his pilgrimage to Ireland- he was not welcomed at all, so he fled to some outlying islands off the Irish coast. There he began to preach to the people there and gained many followers.
Patrick eventually, returned to the mainland in Ireland to continue his ministry. For many years, Patrick spread the Good News throughout the Emerald Isle. He is said to have converted over 100,000 people to Christianity; ordaining many priests and forming about 300 Churches in the region. There is a long running myth that Patrick banished all the snakes from Ireland, but this is simply not true. There were never really any snakes in Ireland to begin with- so none were there to be banished!
St. Patrick's Story of the Shamrock
A true story however, is about how St. Patrick used the symbol of the shamrock- a three-leaf plant to teach people about the Holy Trinity. So, he used this plant to teach people about the basic tenets of Christianity- using a popular plant to win friends in Ireland. So, you might say that St. Patrick was the Godfather of the shamrock, making it popular worldwide. St. Patrick's Day- or the Feast of the Celebration of St. Patrick, as it is known in the Catholic Church took place on the anniversary of St. Patrick's death. His actual death is thought to have been March 17, 461 AD.
First Celebration of Saint Patrick's Day
The very fist celebration parade on St. Patrick's Day- did not not even happen in Ireland at all. It was actually first celebrated in the United States, in Boston, Massachusetts in 1737. The famous New York City, St. Patrick's Day parade, now the world's largest did not start until 1762. A full 14 years before the United States declared their Independence from England on July 4, 1776.
In Ireland, the Feast of St. Patrick's Day became an Irish holiday in 1903. Transforming a small, national celebration into a worldwide phenomenon. These parades became larger and larger, and St. Patrick's Day is now celebrated in Ireland, the USA, Canada, Australia and many other counties in the world. This festival is now celebrated in more countries than any other ethnic festival. What was once a small feast with family and friends has become the biggest party in the whole world!
Wearing of the Green
Why do we wear green on St. Patrick's Day? The color green comes from the Irish Rebellion, when they fought the British Redcoats. The first color associated with St. Patrick's Day was actually blue. But during the war, the Irish Soldiers started singing the song, "The Wearing of the Green" and this morphed into making St. Patrick's Day associated with the emerald color of shamrocks- green. From that moment on, the Irish and everyone who claims to be Irish on St. Patrick's Day wears green. Now, people have been sporting green all over the world ever since, especially on St. Patrick's Day. The US city of Chicago, who also have a famous St. Patrick's Day parade- first dyed the Chicago River green in 1962.
Now you know and can remember the true story of St. Patrick's Day to tell your friends & family. When people have consumed a little too many adult beverages & start spouting off about St. Patrick driving out some snakes- you will be able to counter those misconceptions about St. Patrick's Day with the true story about St. Patrick.
Anyway- Have a very Happy St. Patrick's Day! And I leave you with an Irish Blessing: