Aye, Welcome! Tis a fine day to be celebrating the grand Saint Patrick who brought Christianity to Ireland and demonstrated the Catholic faith amongst the pagan Celts.
Was St. Patrick a Leprechaun? No, he wasn’t. In fact, Leprechauns (which were a type of fairy) were originally portrayed as being vicious, tricky, and mean. Patrick was just a man who became legendary.
Even though Patrick’s exact birth year is unknown, it is believed to be around 400 A.D. For chronological context-Patrick was born in Roman Britain around the same time that a former British Monk, Pelagius, had ventured to the Mediterranean and began his doctrinal debates with St. Augustine. He would have been alive during the Visigoths’ sacking of Rome in 410 A.D. When he was sixteen he was captured by pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave. Around this time Patrick converted to Christianity even though he was born to leaders in the British Catholic Church. He had never taken Christianity seriously, but during his time as a slave, he embraced the faith of his fathers. After six years, he fled his master and returned to Britain on a ship where they walked for several weeks in hunger. Patrick then returned to his family and continued to study Christianity. He claimed that he had a vision calling him to go back to his former land of capture to “walk among them” and spread Christianity to those people.
Although Christianity had most likely spread to Ireland before him, it was Patrick who initiated the largest conversion rate and ensured its enduring future. In his mission work, he converted thousands and ordained priests to begin leading the new Christian communities. He converted wealthy women who became nuns and sons of kings. He refused to accept gifts from the rich and this created for him a precarious situation. By not accepting gifts he did not receive protection from the elite, thereby leaving him exposed to violent acts. The Druids in Ireland did not take kindly to his propagation of a monotheistic religion. According to Nora Chadwick, the Christianity in Ireland became mostly monastic. The two known or assumed writings from Saint Patrick are the Confessio and Epistola.
He is believed to use the three-leaved clover or shamrock as a way to teach the Irish about the Trinity, although this could be a myth, some believe it would have been an excellent tool to use towards teaching the Irish about Christianity because they exalted the idea of renewal and nature. There is so much written about Patrick, especially throughout the Medieval period, that most of what was written is discarded as illegitimate, and only primary sources from his time period are used along with archeological data to determine what may have been true of him and his ministry. One thing is sure, and that is his efforts changed the entirety of Ireland for well over a thousand years.
Here is some Celtic Music to celebrate the special day-