The hero of the all the Irish? He wasn't even born there. Driving the snakes out of Ireland? It was more a metaphor for banishing paganism from the Erin Isles ....plus more facts on the man we celebrate today, the real St. Patrick.
Patron Saint of Ireland was born into either a Scottish or English
family in the fourth century. He was captured as a teenager by Niall of the Nine Hostages who was to become a King of all Ireland.
Patrick was later sold into slavery in Ireland and put to work as a shepherd.
He worked in terrible conditions for six years drawing comfort
in the Christian faith that so many of his people had abandoned
under Roman rule.
a dream that encouraged him to flee his captivity and to head
South where a ship was to be waiting for him. He travelled over
200 miles from his Northern captivity to Wexford town where, sure
enough, a ship was waiting to enable his escape.
in England, he was captured by brigands and returned to slavery.
He escaped after two months and spent the next seven years travelling
Europe seeking his destiny. During this time he furthered his
education and studied Christianity in the Lerin Monastery in France.
to England as a priest. Again a dream greatly influenced him when
he became convinced that the Irish people were calling out to
him to return to the land of his servitude. He went to the Monastery
in Auxerre where it was decided that a mission should be sent
to Ireland. Patrick was not selected for this task to his great
disappointment. The monk that was selected was called Paladius,
but he died before he could reach Ireland and a second mission
was decided upon.
made a Bishop by Pope Celestine in the year 432 and, together
with a small band of followers, traveled to Ireland to commence
There Patrick confronted the most powerful man in Ireland
Laoghaire, The High King of Tara as he knew that if he could gain
his support that he would be safe to spread the word throughout
To get his
attention Patrick and his followers lit a huge fire to mark the
commencement of Spring.
Tradition had it that no fire was to be
lit until the Kings fire was complete, but Patrick defied this
rule and courted the confrontation with the King.
The King rushed
into action and travelled with the intention of making war on
the holy delegation.
In the end, Patrick calmed the King and with quiet composure
impressed the King that he had no other intention than that of
spreading the Gospel.
The King accepted
the missionary, much to the dismay of the Druids who feared for
their own power and position in the face of this new threat. They
commanded that he make snow fall. Patrick declined to do so stating
that this was Gods work. Immediately it began to snow, only stopping
when Patrick blessed himself.
trying to convince the King of his religion, Patrick grasped at
a shamrock growing on the ground. He explained that there was
but one stem on the plant, but three branches of the leaf, representing
the Belssed Trinity. The King was impressed with his sincerity
and granted him permission to spread the word of his faith, although
he did not convert to Christianity himself. Patrick and his followers
were free to spread their faith throughout Ireland and did so
to great effect. He drove paganism (symbolised by the snake) from
the lands of Eireann.
on March 17th in the year 461 at the age of 76. It is not known
for sure where his remains were laid although Downpatrick in County
Down in the North of Ireland is thought to be his final resting
place. His influence is still felt to this day as Nations the
world over commemorate him on March 17th of every year.
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