Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig
"Happy St. Patrick's Day!"
Some amazing facts about St. Patrick:
St. Patrick wasn't Irish, he was British.
The color of St Patrick isn't green, it is blue.
There might have been TWO St. Patricks.
Christianity had probably come to Ireland before St. Patrick arrived,
since he was sent to minister to the Christians in Ireland.
St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, although he was born in Britain. Many miracles have been attributed to the bishop, including the driving of the snakes from Ireland. His sainthood derives from his conversion of the Irish
Celtic pagans to Christianity. He used the native shamrock as a symbol of the holy trinity when preaching and brought the Latin alphabet to Ireland. March 17 is the feast day of St. Patrick, of course.
Patrick was born around 385 in Scotland, probably Kilpatrick, in a Romanized family. His father was Calpurnius, a local official, and his mother was Conchessa.
As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland, where he spent 6 years in slavery herding and tending sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him.
It is during this period he became closer to God. During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. He wrote:
"The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same."
"I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain."
Patrick's captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped from slavery in a ship, after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britain, where he reunited with his family.
It said that he reunited with his family, and then 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.
He had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him "We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more."
In the dream Victoricus delivered him a letter headed "The Voice of the Irish." As he read it he seemed to hear a certain company of Irish beseeching him to walk once more among them. "Deeply moved," he says, "I could read no more."
Later, Patrick was ordained a bishop, and it was Pope Celestine who sent him back to Ireland to take the Gospel to
the island. During the many years that followed, he traveled throughout Ireland converting Pagans and Druids to Christianity. This much we know to be true, and the rest is legend.
He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain) after he was unable to move his arm until he became friendly to Patrick.
Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland, converting many. He and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick's message.
Patrick was quite successful at winning converts. And this fact upset the Celtic Druids. Patrick was arrested several times, but escaped each time. He traveled 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.
The story goes that he gave a sermon on a hill that drove the snakes out of Ireland. It may be that this story was symbolic for his putting an end to Pagan practices, as serpent symbols figured
prominently in their culture.
Patrick by now had many disciples, among them Beningnus, Auxilius, Iserninus, and Fiaac, (all later canonized as well).
Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. Patrick retired to County Down. By the spring of 461, at the age of 76, St Patrick was nearing his end. He died on March 17th at Saul, where he had built the first church. That day has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day ever since.
The clans of Ireland began to bicker over who should receive the honor of having his final resting place on their land. To avoid this sacrilegious end to his life his friends secreted away his body to bury in a secret grave. Many believe this to be in Downpatrick, Co. Down.
St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world's most popular saints. Though originally a Catholic holy day, St. Patrick's Day has evolved into more of a secular holiday.
It's the time for the wearing o' the green and dodging leprechauns. A time when Rivers run green and everyone is Irish in New York city during the annual parade. So, tip your tam o'shanter jauntily to the side and take a wee step forward with us into the land where Irish eyes are smilin' and learn about some of Ireland's favorite dishes.
To the RECIPES.
What does all of this have to do with green beer? Wearing green (and lately eating and drinking green things...) commemorates St. Patrick's use of the shamrock to explain the Trinity. People everywhere embrace the holiday of St. Patrick's Day, and many of those who have no connection with the Emerald Isle become Irish for a day. Here are a few
TOASTS to share over that green beer, or pint of
The custom of imbibing alcohol on St. Patrick's Day comes from an old Irish legend. As the story goes, St. Patrick was served a measure of whiskey that was considerably less than full. St. Patrick took this as an opportunity to teach a lesson of generosity to the innkeeper. He told the innkeeper that in his cellar resided a monstrous devil who fed on the dishonesty of the innkeeper. In order to banish the devil, the man must change his ways. When St. Patrick returned to the hostelry some time later, he found the owner generously filling the patrons' glasses to overflowing. He returned to the cellar with the innkeeper and found the devil emaciated from the landlord's generosity, and promptly banished the demon, proclaiming thereafter everyone should have a drop of the "hard stuff" on his feast day. This custom is known as Pota Phadraig or Patrick's Pot. The custom is known as "drowning the shamrock" because it is customary to float a leaf of the plant in the whiskey before downing the shot.
St. Patrick's Day was first celebrated in America in Boston, Massachusetts in 1737, and is now celebrated nationwide as an opportunity to wear green and consume green libations. The celebration in Ireland is more of a religious matter, whereas in the U.S., it's a festive occasion. The wearing o' the green is a symbol of Irelands lush green farmlands.
Mythology, Symbolism and St. Patrick
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 color 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 color.
The harp is an ancient musical instrument used in Ireland for centuries. It is also a symbol of Ireland. Harpists, who were often blind, occupied a honored place in Irish society.