Why do we celebrate March 17th as St. Patrick’s Day and why is it such a special day? Here is a historical perspective.
Patrick of Ireland was recognized as a Saint by the early Christian Church. This was about 1500 years ago. He was commonly known as Saint Patrick, he is also the patron Saint of Ireland. Most cities, towns and even countries have patron saints. But St Patrick and St. Patrick’s Day is very special.
Most people don’t know that Patrick wasn’t named Patrick by his parents. He wasn’t even Irish! Most historians agree that he was born in Scotland or Wales around 370 A.D. and that his given name was Maewyn Succat. His parents, Calpurnius and Conchessa, were Roman Christians living in Britain.
When he was a teenager, Maewyn was kidnapped, sold into slavery and sent to Ireland. He lived there with the Irish, learned their customs and language, and worked as a shepherd. One day he had a strange dream, that showed him of a way to escape from Ireland — by going to the coast and getting on a ship. The next morning, after many years in slavery, Maewyn woke up and walked hundreds of miles. When he arrived at the coast he found a ship bound to Britain and managed to get a ride. He started believing that his dreams were more than just his imagination.
Back home in Britain, he dreamed of going back to Ireland.Not as to shepherd, but to teach Christianity to Ireland, a land where Christianity was not even practiced.
That dream excited and scared him. It was exciting because he really wanted to follow the dream and teach the Irish Christianity. But he was scared, because he had no formal religious training that would be necessary to teach and spread , so had no talent or skill for teaching and spreading Christianity to Ireland.
So, he joined So he left for France where he entered a monastery in France and and began studying for the priesthood. This is when he changed his name to Patrick (meaning "father of his people" in Latin). After successfully completing his studies, Patrick was ordained as a priest and in time, he became a bishop.
He finally decided to return to Ireland around 432 A.D. He was no longer the slave boy shepherd – in fact by this time he was becoming an old man. But he was motivated and believed in his dream. He traveled throughout Ireland teaching and spreading Christianity, building churches, and founding schools. Because he knew the customs, traditions, and the language of the Irish, he soon had many followers. who became Christians.
He was so successful in his teachings that by time of his death on March 17th, sometime between 461 A.D. and 490 A.D., Ireland was mostly a Christian nation with churches and schools throughout the country.
This is important because by 490 A. D. the Roman Empire had collapsed entirely. For a thousand years, the cities, roads, libraries, schools, fell into ruin. But Ireland preserved the writings, history, and education from the time of the Roman Empire. When what had been the Roman Empire started to rebuild, it was Ireland that helped. This is why St. Patrick is honored on March 17th. .
So those are the facts of a boy named Maewyn who had a dream and became Saint Patrick.
As you can imagine for someone who lived so long ago, there are a bunch of legends.
For one, you’ll hear that in his spare time, Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. OK. That’s impressive. Except for one teeny tiny little problem. There never were any snakes in Ireland. So where did this story come from? Scholars think that the basis for the story was the clash that arose between Patrick with his Christian teachings and the teachings of other Irish religious leaders called the Druids. The Druids were fond of the snake as a symbol of their beliefs, so St. Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland was actually replacing the symbol of snakes with the symbols of Christianity. So over time, people just came to tell the story of how St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland.
Another legend explains why on St. Patrick’s day you have to wear something green or risk getting pinched! The legend goes that if you wear green, you are invisible to the leprechauns and fairies. If you don’t wear green, the leprechauns and fairies can see you and will pinch you because you are the only thing they can see.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! And wear something green!
monastery: a house or place of residence occupied by a community of persons, especially monks, learning religious preachings
patron saint: is a saint who is regarded as the heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person.
perspective:a point of view