St, Patrick’s Day will be observed tomorrow, Friday, March 17. The holiday was first recognized as an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Lutheran Church. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and celebrates the religious heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Who was Saint Patrick?
According to ‘The Confession of St. Patrick,’ he was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and Bishop in Ireland. Much of what is known about Saint Patrick comes from the ‘Confession,’ which was allegedly written by Patrick himself. It is believed that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-Britain family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland. He spent six years there working as a shepherd and during this time he found God. The ‘Confession’ also says that God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would be waiting to take him home. After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a priest.
According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The ‘Confession’ says that he spent many years evangelizing in the northern half of Ireland and converted thousands. His declaration in the ‘Confession’ is said to reveal his humility and worthiness of sainthood.
“My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers. I am looked down upon by many. My father was Calpornius. He was a deacon; his father was Potitus, a priest, who lived at Bannavem Taburniae. His home was near there, and that is where I was taken prisoner. I was about sixteen at the time. At that time, I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity in Ireland, along with thousands of others. We deserved this, because we had gone away from God, and did not keep his commandments. We would not listen to our priests, who advised us about how we could be saved. The Lord brought his strong anger upon us, and scattered us among many nations even to the ends of the earth. It was among foreigners that it was seen how little I was.”
Today, Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, Irish traditional music sessions, and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. There are also formal gatherings such as banquets and dances, although these were more common in the past. Saint Patrick’s Day parades began in North America in the 18th century but did not spread to Ireland until the 20th century. On Saint Patrick’s Day, it is also customary to wear shamrocks, green clothing or green accessories. Saint Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the concept of the Holy Trinityto the pagan Irish. This story first appears in writing in 1726, though it may be older. In pagan Ireland, three was a significant number and the Irish had many triple deities, which may have aided St Patrick in his efforts.