St. Patty’s Day

Chicago River Dyed Green In Annual Tradition For St. Patrick's DayThis is the week we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! This year it may be without the green river in Chicago or the festive parade in New York City due to the ongoing pandemic, but there may still be some green beer consumed and at least a few people will be pinched for not wearing green.

I don’t know of a drop of Irish blood in me, but everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, right? I enjoy the celebratory mood and have always been fascinated by the history of the man celebrated.

Interestingly enough, St. Patrick was neither named Patrick at birth nor Irish! Maewyn Succat was born about 387 AD to a wealthy Roman family in Britain. When he was 16 he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and was a slave in Ireland for six years before he escaped. Instead of being bitter, however, he found God while in captivity and God planted in his heart a desire to share his joy in the Christian faith with the Irish—the very people who captured him.

Our Molly was a bonnie lass.

Our Molly was a bonnie lass.

After years in the Catholic Church back in England he was dubbed St. Patrick in his fifties and was commissioned bishop to Ireland. He faced many obstacles when he returned to Ireland, but eventually his messages of God’s love won over kings, chiefs, and whole clans. He won the hearts of the Irish people through his missionary efforts to rid Ireland of slavery and human sacrifice. The grateful people mourned his death on March 17, 460 AD.

That’s the true story, but the myths abound as well, don’t they? It’s said that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland, but since snakes weren’t native to Ireland those may have been metaphorical “snakes” representing the pagan religions that practiced human sacrifice. The three-leafed shamrock is Ireland’s national flower and it’s said that St. Patrick used it to illustrate the Trinity to his listeners. Then there’s the wearing of the green—maybe just a tip o’ the hat to spring, the shamrock and the old Irish flag.

ShamrocksI’ve always loved The Breastplate Prayer of St. Patrick, one version of which reads in part:
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Certainly St. Patrick’s prayer is as applicable in our day as it was in his. So it is well and good to celebrate his faithful life with all the divine joy in which he believed.

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  1. Several years ago, my husband and I toured the British Isles, including several days in Ireland. Everywhere we went, there were references to St. Patrick–born here, born there, died here, died there etc. We had a marvelous guide, one we could tease, for the 30 day motor coach tour. At St. Patrick’s tomb in Downpatrick, in a deadpan voice, I asked him if there is definite, provable knowledge that dear ole St. Pat was a real person. He almost swallowed his teeth at my near blasphemy until he realized I was teasing.

    Thanks for the memory, Nancy!

  2. Linda Schauer says:

    Thank you Nancy ☘️ Top of the Morning to you!

  3. Nancy, thank you for sharing more to the story of St. Patrick. I have not heard all these details before…just bits and bits. Thanks for increasing my appreciation of the real St. Paddy. I wonder what color he will wear in heaven.

  4. Phyllis Murphy says:

    Nancy, as always you are filled with such interesting history and it was great reading the truth of St. Patrick. If you were Irish and lived in Cleveland, Ohio, St Patrick’s day was celebrated from sunup until who knew when. It was always a huge big deal and people gathered from all over to watch the parade. And so I lift my glass of ice tea and hope you had a wonderful St. Patrick’s day.

  5. alice scott-ferguson says:

    Great info, Nancy!! Some years ago I was blessed to actually spend a Saint Patrick’s Day IN Ireland, which was most memorable. LOVE the prayer…true always and forever!

  6. Sandy Glynn says:

    Very educational and interesting. Thank you Nancy. It’s always a treat to read your writings.
    Love, Sandy Glynn

  7. Rolle Walker says:

    Nancy, I throughly enjoyed your post about St. Patrick of
    Ireland. His powerful prayer belies the suffering he endured.
    His faithfulness with God’s omnipresence is quite something
    to ponder. Thank you for the history lesson, also! I never thought
    about the three-petaled shamrock representing The Holy Trinity.

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