St. Patrick’s Day has been celebrated for thousands of years. Who are we really celebrating. Who is Saint Patrick?
Though his life remains somewhat of a mystery, Saint Patrick was the patron saint of Ireland. There are many traditional stories, some true, many false, about this patron saint.
It is believed that Saint Patrick was born in Britain, close to the end of the fourth century. It is also believed that he was born to wealthy parents. His father was a Christian deacon although it is believed he accepted the role for tax incentives, and there is no actual proof that he came from a religious family. Patrick was just 16 when he was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who found him while attacking his family’s estate. Patrick was then sent to Ireland where he was held prisoner for six entire years.
According to history there is a dispute over where the actual captivity took place. It is also believed that he spent the six years captivity in Mount Slemish, though it is said to be more likely that he was held in County Mayo near Killala. It was there that he spent time working as a shepherd in the great outdoors, by himself in solitude. It is said that he was lonely and afraid and he turned to religion, becoming a devout Christian. It is also said that Patrick began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity, during his captive years.
It was after six years as a prisoner that Patrick was able to escape his captors and captivity. Patrick left behind his writings where he talked about God speaking to him in a dream, and that he believed that God told him it was time for him to leave Ireland. It was this action that made Patrick able to walk almost 200 miles, from his captivity in County Mayo to the Irish coast.
Patrick was to finally arrive in his native land of Britain. Patrick reported that once again he experienced a second revelation. This time he claimed an angel arrived in a dream telling him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Patrick listened because soon after he started religious training. His course in religion lasted for over fifteen years. He was then ordained as a priest and sent to Ireland. His mission was to minister to Christians living in Ireland. He was put there to convert the Irish to Christianity, though there was already a small portion of folks that believed in it already.
Patrick was familiar with the Irish language and it’s culture, so he decided to make use of a traditional ritual into his lesson of Christianity. The Irish had already used the tradition of honoring their gods with fire, but he began to use this ritual to celebrate Easter. After that he used a sun symbol, a highly powerful symbol to the Irish, and superimposed it onto the Christian cross. It was then that Patrick actually created the Celtic cross. He did this in hopes of incorporating the symbol into a natural feel for the Irish folks.
Most of the Irish culture at this time practiced a nature related pagan religion. Irish culture was also consumed with tradition, myth, and legend. This in part is why Patrick’s life was extremely exaggerated through the centuries. Exciting tales have always been a large part of the Irish way of life.
History http://www.history.com/content/stpatricksday/who-was-st.-patrick . http://www.history.com/content/stpatricksday/did-you-know