Enthusiastically celebrated all over the world, 17 March is the feast day and anniversary of the death of St Patrick, 5th century apostle of the Christian faith to Ireland. Perhaps most popular because of the permitted suspension of Lenten restrictions, St Patrick’s day is celebrated with more energy than many other heroes of Church history.
Patron saint and Irish national apostle, Patrick preached and converted his way around Ireland and beyond some time in the 5th century.
Sold Into Slavery
Born into a Britain still under Roman rule, Patrick was kidnapped as a teenager and taken by raiders to Ireland as a slave. Following a religiously inspired vision, he fled to the coast and escaped to Britain. From there he went Auxerre in France and studied to become a priest.
In 432 Patrick returned as Bishop and is credited with converting Ireland to Christianity. According to legend he illustrated his preaching the aid of the three leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity. Most famous of his miraculous exploits, Patrick is credited with ridding Ireland of snakes by chasing them into the sea after they bothered him during a 40 day fast.
A Place in Irish Folk Culture
Patrick is believed to have died on 17 March 461. Since then the mythology surrounding his life has become deeply ingrained in Irish folk culture with his feast day inaugurated in the 9th or 10th century
The first St Patrick’s Day parade was held by Irish soldiers of the English military marching through New York in 1762. With so much Irish immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries, a close knit community spirit and Irish patriotic clubs, St. Patrick's Day celebrations are a major feature of American life.
Worlds Oldest Civilian Parade
St Patrick’s Day in New York is the world 's oldest civilian parade. With over 150,000 participants and nearly 3 million onlookers gathered from all over the world standing along the 5 hour, 1.5-mile parade route. It’s the largest in America, an event of gigantic proportions.
In Ireland, St. Patrick's Day was traditionally been a religious occasion. Until the 1970s Irish law demanded that pubs be closed on March 17. Today, about 1 million people join in Dublin's St. Patrick Day festivities with parades, concerts, outdoor theatre and fireworks.
Spreading the Message
Patrick was called back to Ireland by God in a dream, which he gives an account of in Cofessio - his surviving written work. He suffered at the hands of many Pagan chiefs as he stood firmly in his oposition to their Druid way of life. Although accounts of his missions differ in detail and much mythology surrounds the events of his life there is no dispute of the perservering faith he displayed, carrying the message of the Gospel to the people of Ireland, baptising thousand for Christ.
St Patricks Breastplate
Although now thought to have been witten after St. Patricks death - this hymn provides a devotional prayer for Christian meditation - why not make it part of your prayer time this St. Patricks day
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
(a portion of St. Patricks Breatplate)
March 17th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Les Ellison