Richard Day's picture


       s File:Saint Patrick (window).jpg

    My poor father was a drunk and a no count and died at a young age; loved to scream at the top of his lungs before he retired for the night (read 'passed out') that he was born of the Kings of Ireland.

    I since have discovered that any man in Ireland a couple thousand years ago who could provide enough beer for his brethren on a Saturday Night was dubbed a King.

    It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. Although his father was a Christian deacon, it has been suggested that he probably took on the role because of tax incentives and there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family. At the age of sixteen, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. (There is some dispute over where this captivity took place. Although many believe he was taken to live in Mount Slemish in County Antrim, it is more likely that he was held in County Mayo near Killala.) During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. (It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.)

    We do not know when he was born and we are not always sure when a legend dies. Some accounts have him living to the grand old age of 107 and these have led some scholars to postulate that there were two Patricks. We really only have two of his writings. One is a letter. One is more of a biography.

    Now Joseph Campbell notes that the serpent is one of those universal symbols; a Jungian archetype that pervades almost every culture on the planet. From the Mayans to the Incans to the Aussies to the English, representations of the snake can be found on great buildings, vases, weapons and scrolls.

    There were never any snakes in Ireland. Not even when the bloody Brits owned and occupied everything. St. Patrick did not rid the isle of snakes.

    St. Patrick authored two major works that still survive today. I had both of them but cannot find them just now. Again I praise the internet; cause there the documents are!!!

    His Latin has been called 'crass' or lower class. He is actually living during the time of Arthur and Tristan but mentions neither.

    I find this line illuminating from this short bio:

    During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian.


    If one recalls, Moses had to retreat from Egypt without leaving a forwarding address and ended up a shepherd for years before he heard the voice of the One & True God.

    Why would St. Patrick have had to have been lonely and afraid? Maybe it's the solitude as well as the wonder of the pasture that brings a man to God. And following his kidnapping he finds himself back in England with his rich family.  And like Augustine of Hippo, Patrick 'gives up' all of his inheritance to the poor and becomes a bishop.

    Both of them most probably paid for their place in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, but unlike Augustine, Patrick was at the ends of a Roman Empire that was crumbling.

    So why are people struck by this St. Patrick who really had nothing to do with snakes and everything to do with pulling up stakes and voluntarily returning to the land of red haired barbarians who had kidnapped him?

    Well Ireland was completely converted to the Roman Catholic Religion, much to its travail as far as I am concerned, and Patrick was one of the first arriving to provide the religious yoke for all of the Irish. And the bio of Patrick has enough mystery and wonder in it to provide the seeds for a legendary founder.  One of his two writings is a plea or chastisement against a tribe of Irishmen who were killing his new flock:


    1. I, Patrick, a sinner, unlearned, resident in Ireland, declare myself to be a bishop. Most assuredly I believe that what I am I have received from God. And so I live among barbarians, a stranger and exile for the love of God. He is witness that this is so. Not that I wished my mouth to utter anything so hard and harsh; but I am forced by the zeal for God; and the truth of Christ has wrung it from me, out of love for my neighbors and sons for whom I gave up my country and parents and my life to the point of death. If I be worthy, I live for my God to teach the heathen, even though some may despise me.

    2. With my own hand I have written and composed these words, to be given, delivered, and sent to the soldiers of Coroticus; I do not say, to my fellow citizens, or to fellow citizens of the holy Romans, but to fellow citizens of the demons, because of their evil works. Like our enemies, they live in death, allies of the Scots and the apostate Picts. Dripping with blood, they welter in the blood of innocent Christians, whom I have begotten into the number for God and confirmed in Christ!

    3. The day after the newly baptized, anointed with chrism, in white garments (had been slain) - the fragrance was still on their foreheads when they were butchered and slaughtered with the sword by the above-mentioned people - I sent a letter with a holy presbyter whom I had taught from his childhood, clerics accompanying him, asking them to let us have some of the booty, and of the baptized they had made captives. They only jeered at them.

    5. Wherefore let every God-fearing man know that they are enemies of me and of Christ my God, for whom I am an ambassador. Parricide! fratricide! ravening wolves that "eat the people of the Lord as they eat bread!" As is said, "the wicked, O Lord, have destroyed Thy law," which but recently He had excellently and kindly planted in Ireland, and which had established itself by the grace of God.

    6. I make no false claim. I share in the work of those whom He called and predestinated to preach the Gospel amidst grave persecutions unto the end of the earth, even if the enemy shows his jealousy through the tyranny of Coroticus, a man who has no respect for God nor for His priests whom He chose, giving them the highest, divine, and sublime power, that whom "they should bind upon earth should be bound also in Heaven."

    7. Wherefore, then, I plead with you earnestly, ye holy and humble of heart, it is not permissible to court the favor of such people, nor to take food or drink with them, nor even to accept their alms, until they make reparation to God in hard-ships, through penance, with shedding of tears, and set free the baptized servants of God and handmaids of Christ, for whom He died and was crucified.

    22. I ask earnestly that whoever is a willing servant of God be a carrier of this letter, so that on no account it be suppressed or hidden by anyone, but rather be read before all the people, and in the presence of Coroticus himself. May God inspire them sometime to recover their senses for God, repenting, however late, their heinous deeds - murderers of the brethren of the Lord! - and to set free the baptized women whom they took captive, in order that they may deserve to live to God, and be made whole, here and in eternity! Be peace to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.


    100 years later a Briton by the name of Gildas will write a similar letter combining the plea with the chastisement against the leader of a warring tribe, castigating not only the pagan Saxons but his own Brits for their never ending sins.

    But Patrick, unlike Gildas is not revered as a scribe or scholar but as a converter of pagans.

    And think about it. Stolen from his home and taken to another world devoid of familiar things. And yet, he takes his religion to heart and goes back to the savages who made him a slave.

    And, since they are the Irish, wonderful tales of Patrick, true or not survive.

    We see Patrick using THREE LEAF CLOVERS or shamrocks to demonstrate the concept of the Holy Trinity. He really did not need the fourth wheel, so to speak.

    Wiki tells me that the original color associated with St. Patrick was blue and not green but try wearing blue in Boston today and see how far that gets you.

    Now I grew up honoring Lent. The different European tribes would treat Lent in different ways. As a child I gave up candy. But since we never had that much candy lying around anyway, this had little effect on me.

    The Irish had more stringent rules for Lent and St. Patrick's Day provided a respite from Lent; a feast day in the midst of a time when there was to be no feast for forty days and forty nights.

    Ireland has held huge parades throughout the country since the 1990's but I enjoyed this little squib:

    The shortest St Patrick's Day parade in the world takes place in Dripsey, Cork. The parade lasts just 100 yards and travels between the village's two pubs.
    Everyone's Irish on 17th March.

    Sign on a beam in the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, a commercial museum, promoting the drinking of Guinness stout on St. Patrick's Day.

    In America, it is difficult to find a city that does not honor this day.  Too many pugged nosed politicians as far as I can tell.

    Irish Society of Boston organized what was not only the first Saint Patrick's Day Parade in the colonies but the first recorded Saint Patrick's Day Parade in the world on 18 March 1737.


    Here are some sweet sayings I found today for St. Patrick's Day:

    St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time - a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic.  ~Adrienne Cook

    You've heard I suppose, long ago,
    How the snakes, in a manner most antic,
    He marched to the county Mayo,
    And trundled them into th' Atlantic
    ~William Maginn

    Anyone acquainted with Ireland knows that the morning of St. Patrick's Day consists of the night of the seventeenth of March flavored strongly with the morning of the eighteenth.  ~Author Unknown

    For each petal on the shamrock
    This brings a wish your way -
    Good health, good luck, and happiness
    For today and every day.
    ~Author Unknown

    May your blessings outnumber
    The shamrocks that grow,
    And may trouble avoid you
    Wherever you go.
    ~Irish Blessing


    Q: What's the difference between an Irish funeral and an Irish wedding?

    A: One person.

    Q: What is the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish funeral?

    A: One less drunk!


    May the road rise to meet you

    And the Wind be ever at your back.

    The End.


    This was a personal historical entreaty based upon hundreds of hours of research years ago.  I was and am and still captivated by Patrick.

    I was captivated by St. Patrick (who left us with some docs!) and I was captivated for decades with the writings we still possess from Gildas and others including Bede dated many years later.

    Historically this Patrick is a wonder. I have no idea who he was writing to. 

    I mean you take Julius Caesar's fun with the pirates (twice for chrissakes!) and you read Patrick and it is a wonder to behold.

    That is all I got except that two years pass and almost three years and someone googled St. Patrick.

    This Web is just fantastic!

    No one would grab some letter to the editor from 1950! ha

    the end

    Latest Comments