Mar 15

Kiss me!

I'm...Irish? Maybe?

A fine St. Patrick's Day to you all.

Let's do what the above article claims to do but doesn't, shall we?

St. Patrick was a 5th century monk and Bishop of Ireland. Most of what we know of him comes form two documents, the Confessio of Patrick and the Letter to the soldiers of Coroticus. The clues found in those documents have led to a wide variety of dates for his mission work and his death but generally are confined to the mid to late 400s.

HE seems to have been born in Scotland (although some argue Wales) and brought to Ireland by slavers as a teenager. There he converts to Christianity. He runs away six years later but eventually returns to Ireland as a missionary. At one point, according to the Confessio, he was charged with using his position for financial gain; but seems to have been acquitted of this charge. In this document he claims to have baptized thousands of people, to have suffered persecution, and to have never accepted gifts from Kings or Lords.

Although some early written histories of Christianity in Ireland fail to mention Patrick, by the 700s he becomes the subject of several hagiographies (lives of the saints, or anything written to glorify a particular person be they saint or no) at least two of which are extant. These contain some of the more familiar legends regarding Patrick.

The Shamrock as a symbol for the Trinity: The earliest written version of this story does not appear until the early 1700s, but it may be earlier. During Patrick's actual life time the shamrock was assocaited with the tri-part Celtic deities, such as the Morrigan.

Driving out the Snakes: There is no evidence that snakes have existed in Ireland since the glaciers retreated. However, it has been suggested that this was an earlier metaphor for Patrick's conflict with the Druids that later was taken literally.

Mythic Acts: Patrick is said to have driven out at least two monsters, found a plant that warded off faeries, and in one village where he preached a long time it is said that his staff, stuck in a cleft in a rock, grew into an ash tree.

The Wearing of the Green: In the 1640s the color Green was associated with Ireland and became associated with national identity, and was even a reason for persecution. In the 1700s a group dedicated to Patrick adopted green as their color, however in the late 1700s the Order of Patrick took blue as the official color of their group. The phrase "the wearing of the green" is a reference to the persecution of the United Ireland movement.

Patrick was named a saint, as many national figures were, by the Irish branch of the Church and recognized as such fairly widely in the English speaking world. However, he has never officially been canonized by the Pope and thus is not technically a Saint.

Oh, and corned beef and cabbage, while yummy, is technically of Jewish origin but was adopted by their poor Irish neighbors in the slums of the US.

Leave a Reply