St Patrick is known as the
patron saint of Ireland. He was not a born Irish. But he has become an integral
part of the Irish heritage, mostly through his service across Ireland of the 5th
Patrick was born in the later half of the
4th century AD.There are differing views about the exact year and place of his
birth. According to one school of opinion, he was born about 390 A.D., while the
other school says it is about 373 AD. Again, his birth place is said to be in
either Scotland or Roman England. His real name was probably Maewyn Succat. Though
Patricius was his Romanicized name, he was later came to be familiar as Patrick.
was growing up as naturally as other kids in Britain. However, one day a band
of pirates landed in south Wales and kidnapped him along with many others. Then
they sold him into slavery in Ireland. He was there for 6 years, mostly imprisoned.This
was when changes came to him. He dreamed of having seen God. Legend says, he was
then dictated by God to escape with a getaway ship.
he did escape and went to Britain. And then to France.There he joined a monastery
and studied under St. Germain, the bishop of Auxerre. He spent around 12 years
in training. And when he became a bishop he dreamed that the Irish were calling
him back to Ireland to tell them about God. The Confessio, Patrick's spiritual
autobiography, is the most important document regarding this. It tells of a dream
after his return to Britain,
in which one Victoricus delivered him a letter
headed "The Voice of the Irish."
So he set
out for Ireland with the Pope's blessings. There he converted the Gaelic Irish,
who were then mostly Pagans, to Christianity. He was confident in the Lord, he
journeyed far and wide, baptizing and confirming
with untiring zeal. He also
set up schools and churches which would aid him in his conversion. He developed
a native clergy, fostered the growth of monasticism, established dioceses, and
held church councils. Patrick's doctrine is considered orthodox and has been interpreted
as anti-Pelagian. Although he is not particularly noted as a man of learning,
a few of his writings remain extant.
By the end of
the 7th century Patrick had become a legendary figure, and the legends have continued
to grow since then.There are many legends associated with St Patrick. It is said
that he used the three-leafed shamrock
to explain the concept of the Trinity;
which refers to the combination of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
its strong association with his day and name. Legend also has that, Saint Patrick
had put the curse of God on venomous snakes in Ireland.And he drove all the snakes
into the sea where they drowned.
True, these are
mostly legends. But, after some 1500 years, these legends have been inseparably
combined with the facts. And together they have helped us know much about the
Saint and the spirit behind celebration of the day.
mission in Ireland lasted for over 20 years. He died on March 17, AD 461. That
day has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day ever since. Though originally a
Catholic holy day, St. Patrick's Day has evolved into more of a secular holiday.
Or, rather, 'be an Irish Day'.