Paddys Day

Get outa Me garden Ya Snakes Ya!

And Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland in 432 AD.

Watercolour painting, 18 x 24 cm. (7 x 9.5 in) on 300gm (140 lb) cold pressed acid free paper.

“So, what are you doin´ for Paddy´s Day in Fuengirola?

“Agh, the usual routine on St Patrick´s Day, Mass, J.Bs, El Castillo for Richies Dublin Coddle”.

Guaranteed no shortage of chat, craic, singin´ and drink!

I always thought that Saint Patrick was all to do with Drink, a day off school and work, pubs closed and a dog show in the RDS in Dublin. But NO!

I checked it out on the net & and lo and behold:

It is unclear exactly where Patricius Magonus Sucatus (Patrick) was born–somewhere in the west between the mouth of the Severn and the Clyde–but this most popular Irish saint was probably born in Scotland of British origin, perhaps in a village called Bannavem Taberniae. (Other possibilities are in Gaul or at Kilpatrick near Dunbarton, Scotland.) His father, Calpurnius, was a deacon and a civil official, and his grandfather was a priest.

About 405, when Patrick was in his teens (14-16), he was captured by Irish raiders and became a slave in Ireland. There in Ballymena (or Slemish) in Antrim (or Mayo), Patrick first learned to pray intensely while tending his master’s sheep. After six years, he was told in a dream that he should be ready for a courageous effort that would take him back to his homeland.

He ran away from his owner and travelled 200 miles to the coast. His initial request for free passage on a ship was turned down, but he prayed, and the sailors called him back. The ship on which he escaped was taking dogs to Gaul (France). At some point he returned to his family in Britain, then seems to have studied at the monastery of Lerins from 412 to 415.

He received some kind of training for the priesthood in either Britain or Gaul, possibly in Auxerre, including study of the Latin Bible, but his learning was not of a high standard, and he was to regret this always. He spent the next 15 years at Auxerre were he became a disciple of Saint Germanus of Auxerre and was possibly ordained about 417.

It is said that in visions he heard voices in the wood of Focult (Focault) or that he dreamed of Ireland and determined to return to the land of his slavery as a missionary. In that dream or vision he heard a cry from many people together and he read a writing in which this cry was named ‘the voice of the Irish.’

There is no reliable account of his work in Ireland, where he had been a captive. Legends include the stories that he drove snakes from Ireland, and that he described the Trinity by referring to the shamrock, and that he singlehandedly–an impossible task–converted Ireland. Nevertheless, St. Patrick established the Catholic Church throughout Ireland on lasting foundations: he travelled throughout the country preaching, teaching, building churches, opening schools and monasteries, converting chiefs and bards, and everywhere supporting his preaching with miracles.

At Tara in Meath he is said to have confronted King Laoghaire on Easter Eve with the Christian Gospel, kindled the light of the paschal fire on the hill of Slane, confounded the Druids into silence, and gained a hearing for himself as a man of power. He converted the king’s daughters. He threw down the idol of Crom Cruach in Leitrim. Patrick wrote that he daily expected to be violently killed or enslaved again.

And a bit more!

We are told that often Patrick baptized hundreds on a single day. He would come to a place, a crowd would gather, and when he told them about the true God, the people would cry out from all sides that they wanted to become Christians. Then they would move to the nearest water to be baptized.

On such a day Aengus, a prince of Munster, was baptized. When Patrick had finished preaching, Aengus was longing with all his heart to become a Christian. The crowd surrounded the two because Aengus was such an important person. Patrick got out his book and began to look for the place of the baptismal rite but his crozier got in the way.

The bishop’s crozier often has a spike at the bottom end, probably to allow the bishop to set it into the ground to free his hands. So, when Patrick fumbled searching for the right spot in the book so that he could baptize Aengus, he absent-mindedly stuck his crosier into the ground just beside him–and accidentally through the foot of poor Aengus!

Patrick, concentrating on the sacrament, never noticed what he had done and proceeded with the baptism. The prince never cried out, nor moaned; he simply went very white. Patrick poured water over his bowed head at the simple words of the rite. Then it was completed. Aengus was a Christian. Patrick turned to take up his crozier and was horrified to find that he had driven it through the prince’s foot!

“But why didn’t you say something? This is terrible. Your foot is bleeding and you’ll be lame. . . .” Poor Patrick was very unhappy to have hurt another.

Then Aengus said in a low voice that he thought having a spike driven through his foot was part of the ceremony. He added something that must have brought joy to the whole court of heaven and blessings on Ireland:

“Christ,” he said slowly, “shed His blood for me, and I am glad to suffer a little pain at baptism to be like Our Lord” (Curtayne).

In art, St. Patrick is represented as a bishop driving snakes before him or trampling upon them.

At times he may be shown

(1) preaching with a serpent around the foot of his pastoral staff;

(2) holding a shamrock;

(3) with a fire before him; or

(4) with a pen and book, devils at his feet, and seraphim above him.

Saint Patrick is the patron sint of Nigeria (which was evangelized primarily by Irish clergy) and of Ireland and especially venerated at Lerins.

Two of the usual suspects to be seen over Paddys Day (week). A direct descendant of Saint Patrick (L) and a walking Saint (R).

Interestingly, the things that Saint Patrick never got involved with as far as we can tell is, drink, dressing up, dancing, singing or craic of any sort!


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