The Courier

Stained glass image of St. Patrick from Saint Patrick Catholic Church, Junction City Ohio


This Thursday, kids will be heading to school dressed in their finest leprechaun green and gold. We’ll dust off our Kiss me I’m Irish buttons and maybe gather with friends for a green drink. So who is this St. Patrick and why do we celebrate him on March 17th?

St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t always about the grand parades and parties. It started in 1631 as a feast day for Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Since the holy day fell within the Christian penitential season of Lent (known for its sombre mood and fasting), many took this opportunity to have a celebration. St. Patrick’s Day really took off in the early 1900s when it became a public holiday. As Irish immigrants flooded into America, they took this opportunity to celebrate their Irish culture; throwing lively parties and parades in many major American cities.

Saint Patrick wasn’t actually Irish at all and his name wasn’t even Patrick. He was born Maewyn Succat, in Roman controlled Britain in the late 4th century. He is best known for bringing Christianity to Ireland. When he was sixteen, he was captured by Irish pirates and sold into slavery in Northern Ireland. He became a shepherd and during those difficult years of isolation, he relied on the strength of his Christian faith. In his writings, St. Patrick expressed that with each day during his captivity, his reliance on God became stronger and stronger. After six years, he escaped back to Britain where he followed his calling and became a priest. It was at this time that he took the name Patricius which would later become Patrick. After becoming a Bishop, he returned to Ireland in 432 C.E., as a missionary to spread the Christian faith. He established numerous monastic orders and is credited with expanding literacy on the island. The date of his death is celebrated on March 17th.

There are many legends which surround the life and works of St. Patrick. A popular story is of St. Patrick standing on top of an Irish hillside and casting all the snakes in Ireland into the sea. While he still might receive thanks for getting rid of snakes in Ireland, it’s generally accepted that there were never any snakes on the island to begin with. Another legend of St. Patrick has him explaining the complexity of the Christian Trinity using a three-leaf clover. Since that time, the shamrock has become an Irish emblem and is commonly worn on St. Patrick’s Day.

So whether you’re Irish or Irish-at-heart, I offer you this traditional Irish blessing for your St. Patrick’s day:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

God Bless ~ Padre Megan Jones

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