Ireland has always been the land of myths and legends, so it is no surprise that the life of the Patron Saint of Ireland – Saint Patrick - remains one of mystery and legend.
Saint Patrick was born in Britain, and even though his father was a Christian Deacon, it would seem that his family were not extremely religious. It was only after his kidnapping by Irish pirates, and held captive for six years in Ireland, that he turned to his faith to find solace and comfort in a life that he found lonely and full of fear. In his writings, he believed he was told by God to leave Ireland, which he did, walking 200 miles to the coast where he returned to England. For fifteen years he trained as a Priest, and in another revelation he was told to return to Ireland to convert the Pagans (not an easy task).
Having lived in Ireland for many years, he was familiar with their beliefs, particularly their worship of many Gods. Instead of destroying these beliefs, he incorporated them into his teachings, and even went so far as to include the sun (whom the Pagans worshipped) as a symbol of the celtic cross, which remains to this day. His obvious respect for the Irish people and their beliefs earned him praise and an acceptance which resulted in him becoming the Patron Saint of Ireland.
Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated worldwide on 17th March each year (this may have been the anniversary of his death, no-one really knows). The Saint Patrick’s Day parades, however, originated in America, to help those Irish immigrants form a connection to the land of their birth. In fact, there are more Irish Americans in America than there are the Irish in Ireland.
I personally love the myths and legends surrounding this very special man, and because there are no records of his birth or where he died, I like to think that his spirit is still present on the island he called home; residing with a people who adopted him as their own.
The love and respect for this Patron Saint is evident in the symbols he blessed such as the shamrock, which grows in the wilds of the island untamed and free; and said to have been planted by the Saint himself. We believe that when the shamrock dies, Saint Patrick has forsaken us. Luckily for us it still flourishes, or is it the unseen hand of a loving Saint who tends it still. To everyone on this special day - La Fheile Padrig Sona Duit (Happy St. Patrick’s Day).