´¯`•. March 17, 2017

Patty Day Prattle
((or, Anna-go-Bah – a repost from 2004!))

Would it be cynical of me to say “Oh, yey.  Another day named after a dead saint that people pray to?”   Yeah, I guess it would.  ((grins sheepishly))  Ahem.  Well, Today is the day of Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland (and Nigeria, which he never visited or referred to in any of his writings, but… whatever.)

Patrick was not Irish – he was either born in Scotland or England.  He was, however, sold into slavery in Ireland around 405AD, as a teenager.  After 6 years, Patrick was said to have recieved a dream from the Lord telling him to escape and prepare to return to his homeland.  According to legend, he prayed, and the sailors miraculously allowed him free passage – divine intervention fulfilling the dream.  Unfortunately, upon arrival in England he was captured by brigands and returned to slavery.  So much for divine intervention and a fulfillment of his dream.

Well, it didn’t seem to phase Patrick – he ran away a second time.  Unfortunately, his dream telling him to ‘prepare to return to his homeland’ would again be unfulfilled… the boat he jumped was headed to Gaul (France), not England.  He spent the next 7 years travelling Europe, studying at the Lerin Monastery in France.  Some sources try to add that he made a pitstop home in between all of this, but a return to England would cause the dates to be incorrect, so it’s not likely that’s true.

Then Patty spent 15 years at Auxerre were he became a disciple of Saint Germanus of Auxerre and was possibly ordained about 417.   It is said that he ‘felt’ the Lord calling him to ministry in Ireland, the place of his captivity… in truth, there are writings that indicate that he had a vision in which he heard voices in the wood of Focult. In the vision, he heard ‘a cry from many people together’ and he read a writing in which this cry was named ‘the voice of the Irish.’

(If that makes any sense, you’re doing better than I am.  This guy has weird visions that aren’t answered by God… so where they come from, who the heck knows.)

There is conflicting information about his consecration  – either St. Germanus consecrated him bishop about 432, and sent him to Ireland to succeed Saint Palladius, the first bishop, who had died earlier that year, or Patrick was made a Bishop by Pope Celestine in the year 432 and, together with a small band of followers, travelled to Ireland to commence the conversion.   Take your pick.

Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs.  ((A typical Catholic/Christian practice, if you’ve followed by blogs on the subject, and how that TOTALLY messed up everything and compromised the Gospel in the end.))  For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish.

There is no reliable account of his work in Ireland. Legends include the stories that he drove snakes from Ireland, and that he described the Trinity by referring to the shamrock, and that he singlehandedly converted Ireland.  All of which aren’t true – he was not the first Christian in Ireland, and reptiles were never a problem there.  On top of that, his writings indicate a straightforward gospel message – he stuck to the Romans Road, siting Paul’s book to the Romans 30 times in the only 2 writings we have.  Snakes, leprechauns and charms were distant from him.   “The Hymn,” written in ancient Irish, and also known as “The Breastplate” is often attributed to him, but in actuality was not one of his writings.

There was some contact with the pope. He visited Rome in 442 and 444. As the first real organizer of the Irish Church, Patrick is called the Apostle of Ireland.  Patrick organized the Church into territorial sees, raised the standard of scholarship, and worked to bring Ireland into a closer relationship with the Western Church.

So now you know the true story of St. Patrick.


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