Friday, March 16, 2012

So who was St. Patrick anyway? that a burrito he's holding?

(St. Patricks Cathedral, Armagh - Northern Ireland)

So here it is, the day has arrived when everyone is Irish, when everything appears green and when we all try on the Irish brogue (for a few words anyway) -even if the catch phrase involves  'me lucky chaaaarms'! Oh yes, and despite being mistaken for Australian yesterday (ha!) I have to say I do love this time of year, as I'm sure oul' Saint Patrick would if he were around to see it all....

But wait a minute....who exactly was Saint Patrick anyway? Do ya know? Do ya care? Did he drink green beer and fall into the fountains in Savannah? Did he really pick up a shamrock for the King of Tara whilst wearing his 'kiss me I'm Irish' hat....or was he even Irish I ask???

Well, fear not because I'm going to clue you in on a big secret....

You see, um....well, no.....he wasn't Irish. He, he was British!! Roman British in fact - toga and all, and he didn't even drink green beer. None of that, he was in fact an early Christian missionary who crossed the Irish sea with a mission to purge pagan Ireland and by so doing to bring about the coming of Christ, as Ireland in those days was considered as 'the far edge of the world'...(think of Christ's words about the gospel reaching the ends of the word, and you'll see what I mean.)

Yes, he lived in the 5th century and yes he came to Ireland to save souls, even though his was a Brit, so that's why most monuments to Patrick in Ireland are Christian in nature, such as the early cross pictured below in Downpatrick in County Down, near the grave site of St. Patrick.

You see, the story goes that Patrick as a young man, was captured by Irish pirates (red beard I'm guessing, not blackbeard!!) taken to Slemish mountain in Northern Ireland, but after a period of some years managed to escape and eventually get back home to what is now England. But what's really cool about this is that many years later, as a prominent bishop and more mature Christian he felt a calling to go back to Ireland to spread the gospel to the very people who enslaved him!

Yup, that means he was kind of a hero, and a clever one at that given he managed to persuade kings and peasants alike to turn to Christ from paganism. Quite a feat, and completely without the use of green beer, beads, silly hats, or corn beef for that matter!

OK, I know I'm being kind of light hearted about this...but truthfully, the real Saint Patrick was a very noble individual who was obviously courageous, inventive and driven to what he did, so overall he was a cool guy methinks!

Growing up in County Armagh in Northern Ireland, which is Saint Patrick's country, I was always surrounded with reminders of Patrick from placenames to church names to street names and never thought much about him until later in life. In many ways I suppose you could say I took him for granted, oblivious to the great festivals thrown in his name around the world. As an example, the church below is Saint Patricks ancient cathedral in Armagh, which is sited on the spot of Patrick's first church and is a thousand years old! Not bad.

St. Patricks, Armagh Northern Ireland

Now, I know that the festivals and parades are more about being Irish than they are about St. Patrick himself, but I thought it would be fun to clue you in....So, there you have it!

Hope you enjoy the day, whatever you decide to do!

Wearing the green! Enjoy!

Judie the Irish Foodie

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