Monday, March 16, 2015

Happy St Patrick's Day

St. Patrick of Ireland was born circa 385 Ad at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland. The parents of Maewyn Succat (or Patricius) were wealthy Romans living in Britain .His father was a deacon. When Patricius was fourteen, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. There he learned the language and practices of the pagen people but became a Christian. He escaped slavery when he was twenty and returned to Scotland to reunite with his family. He studied to be a priest and was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre before being sent by Pope Celestine as a bishop to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland in 433. Overcoming hostilities he converted the chieftain Dichu and began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland. After 40 years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering Patrick worked many miracles and established Ireland as Christian country. He retired to County Down and died on March 17 in AD 461. That day has been celebrated as St. Patrick's Day ever since.

There are many legends surrounding St Patirick most of which cannot be verified. Some of the more common were:

Patrick used the shamrock (a three leaf clover) to explain the Trinity and this icon became associated with the Irish ever since. Another legend was Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland; snakes were a popular symbol among the Irish pagans. He used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross. The sun was a common symbol in Irish paganism and veneration of the symbol appealed to the Irish converts. By the seventh century, St Patrick was revered as the patron saint of Ireland.

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