This week is St Patrick’s Day (March 17). Along with St Nicholas and St Valentine, St Patrick is one of the best known and most beloved of the Saints. And here’s what most people know about St Patrick:
1. He drove the snakes out of Ireland.
2. He is the Patron Saint of Ireland.
3. We celebrate him with corned beef and cabbage, green beer and kissing.
4. St. Patrick is Irish.
5. On St Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish!
Although there is wide belief in all of these, only one has any historical truth.
1. There were no snakes in Ireland for St. Patrick to drive out! He did initiate the Irish conversion to Christianity and away from the Druidic and pagan religions. The driving out of snakes is believed to be based on his driving away satan. (See any connection to Genesis here?)
2. Patrick did bring Christianity to Ireland and was the first bishop in Ireland. He is the Patron Saint of Ireland.
3. OK. these are traditions of St Patrick’s Day. But they are more along the lines of “let’s party” than having anything directly to do with the venerated Saint. (I’ll take the kissing part, please.)
4. St Patrick was born in Scotland, not Ireland. He first went to Ireland as a slave. He escaped his slavery, returned to Scotland, entered the clergy, then returned to bring Christianity to Ireland.
5. I think this has something to do with the kissing and the beer.
Happy St Patrick’s Day!
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