When I was a kid growing up, lent was bleak. Deny, Deny, Deny…that is until the 17th of March. That day was a break. It was a brief reprieve before heading back into the sack cloth and ashes of Lent. When I was a young we would have corned beef and cabbage (a poor person’s food) and my mother would put green dye in the milk and into the potatoes. I guess it was a thing to do. The sun always shone on St. Paddy’s day. There were parades. It was fun. If you weren’t wearing green on that day, prepare to be pinched. So in that same spirit, I’ve gathered a few items about this peripatetic saint.
Some fun facts about St. Patrick.
His Name: Maewyn Succat (He adopted Patrick or Patricius upon becoming a priest)
Nationality: Roman Briton
Born: Around 415 AD
Travels: At the age of 16 he was brought to Ireland. He later returned to his home in Wales, travelled to France and eventually came back to Ireland.
Died: March 17th, 493 (Disputed)
Education: Very little in his early life. He later trained as a cleric in France
Occupation: Sheep herder for Milchu on Slemish Mountain in Co Antrim and later preacher, baptiser and bishop
Achievements: Posthumously became Ireland’s patron saint Responsible for the conversion of the island to Christianity
Publications: Epistle to Coroticus ,Confessions,
Interests/hobbies: Preaching,Writing,Travel,Church-building,Hillwalking – once spent forty days of Lent on Croagh Patrick
Pota Phadraig: Pota Phadraig (Patrick’s Pot) is the name given to the measure of whiskey to be taken on Saint Patrick’s Day. Tradition dictates that a shamrock be floated on the whiskey before drinking, hence the expression, ‘drowning the shamrock’
The Shamrock: This was the tool reputedly used by Saint Patrick to illustrate the Holy Trinity to convert the Irish pagans
Saint Patrick’s Breastplate: Also known as The Lorica, this was the hymn said to have been sung by Patrick and his followers on their pilgrimage to Tara as they attempted to put a stop to the pagan rituals
Saint Patrick’s Day Parades: Contrary to popular belief, this tradition did not originate in Ireland. The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in America was in 1737 hosted by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston.
Today festive parades are held all over the world, for no more sinister purpose than raising a glass to the saint and celebrating Irishness.
The Reek: Every year thousands of pilgrims, many in bare feet, climb the 2,500 ft to the peak of Croagh Patrick, to pay homage to Saint Patrick’s Christian mission in Ireland. Legend says that it was here that the saint rang his bell and the snakes of Ireland fled.
Things you didn’t know about Saint Patrick:
At the age of sixteen, shortly before he was taken into captivity, “he committed a fault which appears not to have been a great crime, yet was to him a subject of tears during the rest of his life”. (from Butler, Lives of the Saints)
He was tremendously conscious about his lack of education and often refersto his inability to express his thoughts clearly in his Confessio.(from Simms, The Real Story of Saint Patrick)
Myths about Saint Patrick:
He used a shamrock to explain the Trinity: Not true but the shamrock was traditionally worn in Ireland as a symbol of the cross
He drove the snakes out of the country: Ireland never had snakes – but the snake metaphor was probably used later to represent paganism
He was the first to preach the Good News in Ireland: It is known that there were Christians in Ireland before his time
He is thought to have been born and died on his feast day, March 17th: Both claims are considered unlikely
…so there we are