Little is known of Patrick’s early life, though it is known that he was born in Roman Britain in the 4th century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father and grandfather were deacons in the Church. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken captive to Ireland as a slave. It is believed he was held somewhere on the west coast of Ireland, possibly Mayo, but the exact location is unknown. According to his Confession, he was told by God in a dream to flee from captivity to the coast, where he would board a ship and return to Britain. Upon returning, he quickly joined the Church in Auxerre in Gaul and studied to be a priest.
In 432, he again said that he was called back to Ireland, though as a bishop, to Christianise the Irish from their native polytheism. Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people. After nearly thirty years of evangelism, he died on 17 March 461, and according to tradition, was buried at Downpatrick. Although there were other more successful missions to Ireland from Rome, Patrick endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity and is held in esteem in the Irish Church.
St Patrick’s day in Ireland is a religious holiday similar to Christmas and Easter, with grand parades, community feasts, charity shows and the mass. The parades, shamrocks, and green beer are provided primarily for tourists … although the Irish drink their share too! In fact, it has turned out to be one of the most celebrated events in Ireland and a major tourist attraction.
In North America and the rest of the world the day is celebrated by many, with parades and various activities. In Chicago for instance they turn the river green with food dye! It is also one of the busiest days of the year for bars and restaurants!
Irish saying …
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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