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Beannachtai na Feile Padraig Beannachtai na Feile Padraig
by The Ovi Team
2018-03-17 10:08:29
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The person who was to become St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales about AD 385. His given name was Maewyn, and he almost didn't get the job of bishop of Ireland because he lacked the required scholarship. Far from being a saint, until he was 16, he considered himself a pagan. At that age, he was sold into slavery by a group of Irish marauders that raided his village. During his captivity, he became closer to God.

He escaped from slavery after six years and went to Gaul where he studied in the monastery under St. Germain, bishop of Auxerre for a period of twelve years. During his training he became aware that his calling was to convert the pagans to Christianity. His wishes were to return to Ireland, to convert the native pagans to Christianity. But his superiors instead appointed St. Palladius. But two years later, Palladius transferred to Scotland. Patrick, having adopted that Christian name earlier, was then appointed as second bishop to Ireland.

Patrick was quite successful at winning converts. And this fact upset the Celtic Druids. Patrick was arrested several times, but escaped each time. He travelled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid him in his conversion of the Irish country to Christianity. His mission in Ireland lasted for thirty years. After that time, Patrick retired to County Down. He died on March 17 in AD 461. That day has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day ever since.

Much Irish folklore surrounds St. Patrick's Day. Not much of it is actually substantiated. Some of this lore includes the belief that Patrick raised people from the dead. He also is said to have given a sermon from a hilltop that drove all the snakes from Ireland. Of course, no snakes were ever native to Ireland, and some people think this is a metaphor for the conversion of the pagans. Though originally a Catholic holy day, St. Patrick's Day has evolved into more of a secular holiday.

One traditional icon of the day is the shamrock. And this stems from a more bona fide Irish tale that tells how Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Trinity. He used it in his sermons to represent how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate elements of the same entity. His followers adopted the custom of wearing a shamrock on his feast day. The St. Patrick's Day custom came to America in 1737. That was the first year St. Patrick's Day was publicly celebrated in this country, in Boston.

Today, people celebrate the day with parades, wearing of the green and drinking beer. One reason St. Patrick's Day might have become so popular is that it takes place just a few days before the first day of spring. One might say it has become the first green of spring.

The Shamrock, called "Seamróg" in Irish, symbolizes the Trinity - the Christian idea that there is One God but Three Persons in the One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Before the Christian era it was a sacred plant of the Druids of Ireland because its leaves formed a triad. Famous stories tell of how St. Patrick used the shamrock in his teaching. Preaching in the open air about God and the Trinity, he illustrated the meaning of the Three in One by plucking a shamrock from the grass growing at his feet and showing it to his congregation.

The legend of the shamrock is also connected with that of the banishment of the serpent tribe from Ireland by a tradition that snakes are never seen on shamrocks and that it is a remedy against the stings of snakes and scorpions. The shamrock was a sacred plant for the Druids, and three was a mystical number in the Druidic religious tradition. It is probable that St. Patrick was aware of the significance of using a shamrock to illustrate this spiritual metaphor.

St. Patrick is famous the world over for having driven the snakes from Ireland. One story tells of his standing upon a hill, using a wooden staff to drive the serpents into the sea, banishing them forever from the shores of Ireland. Another legend says that one old serpent resisted, but the saint overcame it by cunning. He is said to have made a box and invited the reptile to enter. The snake insisted the box was too small and the discussion became very heated. Finally the snake entered the box to prove he was right, whereupon St Patrick slammed the lid and cast the box into the sea. Of course, though it is true that there are no snakes in Ireland, there probably have not been since Ireland was separated from the continent of Europe at the end of the ice age.

As in many old pagan religions serpent symbols were common, and possibly even worshipped. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice. While not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, it was Patrick who encountered the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rights. He converted the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the Holy Wells which still bear that name. According to tradition St. Patrick died in A.D. 493 and was buried in the same grave as St. Bridget and St. Columba, at Downpatrick, County Down. The jawbone of St. Patrick was preserved in a silver shrine and was often requested in times of childbirth, epileptic fits and as a preservative against the evil eye. Another legend says St. Patrick ended his days at Glastonbury and was buried there. The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Galstonbury Abbey.  The great desire during the middle ages to possess the bodies, or at least the relics of saints, accounts for the many discrepancies as to the burial places of St. Patrick and others.

Believe it or not, the colour of St. Patrick was not actually green, but blue! In the 19th century, however, green came to be used as a symbol for Ireland. Thanks to plentiful rain and mist, the 'Emerald Isle' is indeed green year-round, which was probably the inspiration for the national colour.


   
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Emanuel Paparella2013-03-17 15:05:10
As somebody married to an Irish-American I cannot but wish everybody a "HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY."


Leah Sellers2013-03-17 15:20:39
Being predoninately of Irish descent, I have long enjoyed the merriment associated with St. Patrick's Day. And like most Saints, his story is one of suffering, hardship, Sacrifice, Re-vival, Rejuvenation, Miracles and Divine Mysteries which lift the Soul, and help to give Folks the Hope and Will to continue putting one foot in front of the other no matter what.
Also, the little Litte Trickster Lepechauns remind us of the Joys of Jokes, Prnaks and the Magical Effects/Affects of Shared Laughter.
Happy St. Patty's Day Ovi Team !


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