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Saint Patrick

St. Patrick's Day


Saint Patrick

There are many myths and legends (The Shamrock, Snakes, and Irelands Conversion to Christianity) about our beloved saint. Happy St Patrick's Day !!!

Saint Patrick apostle of Ireland. Fifth century Ireland is a lost world, virtually closed to both historians and archaeologists, and what little is known about life and work of Patrick comes from his own writings in Latin, now accepted as authentic, and from brief references in annuals written about two centuries later. In his Confessions, an apologia written in his old age rough Latin, Patrick says that he was a native of Roman Britain, the son of Calpurnius, a deacon who lived in the village of Bannaven Taberniae. Scholars disagree as to its location, ascribing it variously to Cumberland, the Severn valley and the island of Anglesey. He was captured by Irish raiders at the age of sixteen, and sold into bondage to tend sheep and swine on the slopes of Slemish mountain in Antrim for a chief named Milchu. His thoughts turned to God, and he spent many hours in solitary prayer.

After six years he escaped, and made his way home. He relates how in a vision he saw a man who came from Ireland with letters, and how he heard the voices of the Irish imploring him to return. He does not say where he studied for the Church, but tradition makes him a disciple of St. Germanus of Auxerre, and he may also have spent some time at Tours and at the monastic island settlement on Lerins off the coast of Provence. According to the Chronicle of Prosper of Aquitane, a contemporary source. Pope Celestine sent one Palladius in the year 421 to the Irish believing in Christ, to be their bishop. This fragment of evidence suggests that there were Christians in Ireland at that time in numbers sufficient to warrant the appointment of a bishop. According to tradition, Palladius' mission had little success, and he was forced to leave within a few months, dying in Scotland about 431. The uncertainty surrounding the date of Saint Patrick's arrival has occasioned the theory of two Patrick's, whose careers were confused by later chronicles, but this remains merely theory. It seems reasonably certain that St. Patrick's mission spanned some thirty years, in the latter half of the fifth century, that it was very successful, and that Ireland, unlike any other country in Western Europe, was converted to Christianity without the shedding of martyrs' blood. In his own words, the saint 'baptized thousands, ordained clerics everywhere and rejoiced to see the flock of the Lord in Ireland growing splendidly.' It is probable that most of his missionary was carried out in the Northern half of the country. The date and place of his death are uncertain; tradition says that he died at Saul, near Downpatrick, Co. Down, on 17 March, the day now celebrated as the national festival.

The legends which accumulated around the saints life go far beyond the meager details related above, which include all that is known about him with any certainty. This story of his explaining the mystery of the Holy Trinity by showing a three-leaved shamrock to the King at Tara; the lighting of the Paschal fire on the hill of Slane; the destruction of the idol, Crom Créuach; the banishing of snakes from Ireland - these are all apocryphal accretions of later dates. So also is the identification of Saul as the site of his first church.. Croagh Patrick, where he said to have kept his Lenten fast and now a place of Pilgrimage, has been claimed, with Slemish, as the scene of his captivity as a boy. His original Celtic name is said to have been Succat, Patricius being his Latin designation.

Other writings attributed to St. Patrick are his Epistle to Cortices accepted as authentic, and a fine hymn in Irish, the Breastplate of St. Patrick. The Epistle, written in Latin, beseeches Coroticus, a British chief, to free some Irish Christians whom he had taken captive. Whatever about the lack of knowledge of life in Ireland in the fifth century, the author of Confessions and the Epistle emerges as a real personality; the vividness of his narrative and the undoubted success of his mission account for the central place he came to occupy in Irish tradition, and the hold he exercised over the imagination of the chronicles and storytellers of later centuries.

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