History

The saint behind St. Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day is a huge celebration held annually on March 17, and it reportedly takes place on the anniversary of the actual St. Patrick’s death. This is a religious holiday for the Irish, and it has been for 1,000 years. Though it’s an Irish holiday, it’s also celebrated in America.

On March 17th, 1772, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched in New York City and in Boston because they were missing home and they wanted to celebrate this important holiday. These were the first St. Patrick’s Day parades — and the birth of a tradition. Today, St. Patrick’s Day parades are huge celebrations in New York City and Boston, but also many other cities and towns in the country, such as our own Ireland, Indiana.

These parades became a display of unity and strength from immigrants who were persecuted. But now times have changed and the parades have become more of a display of Irish-American heritage celebrated by many.

While many people celebrate this holiday happily with parades, great Irish-themed foods, and various rivers, fountains, and beer dyed green on this day, what do we know about St. Patrick, the man?

To begin with, St. Patrick lived during the Fifth Century, and he is the patron saint of Ireland, the apostle of the nation. He was born in Roman Britain to a Christian family, but he was taken to Ireland against his will by Irish marauders at the age of 16 to work as a slave.

Though he escaped six years later following the advice of a voice that spoke to him in a dream, he went back to Ireland and the reason he’s so celebrated in the country is that he’s credited with bringing Christianity back to the Irish. Much of the information we have about St. Patrick and his life comes from a book he wrote in the last years of his life, called Confessio.

According to this book, he had a second dream when he was back in Britain, and that’s the reason he went back to Ireland. In the dream, someone called Victoricus gave him a letter titled “The Voice of the Irish”. As he was reading the letter, he started to hear the voice of the Irish asking him to come back. And he did, after he studied for the priesthood and became an ordained bishop.

When he arrived in Ireland once more, he preached the Gospel and converted thousands and thousands of Irish. He also started building churches in the country with the help of the people. He lived in poverty most of his life but he never stopped teaching, traveling, and working. He died on March 17th in the year 461AD in Saul, the place where he built his first church upon coming back to Ireland.

Since his death, many legends have been created around St. Patrick and he became the patron saint of Ireland. It’s said he baptized hundreds of people in only one day and he used a three-leaf clover to explain the Holy Trinity to his people. It is also believed he drove the snakes out of Ireland, which is why he’s often portrayed trampling on them in works of art throughout history.

Featured photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

The author of this article, Christopher M. Wathen, is a life-long Lintonian, having been born and raised in Linton, Indiana, and he is a regular contributor to The Lintonian. As a community writer for The Lintonian, he writes a wide variety of articles here. Chris also has written an eclectic mix of short books, as well. From a children’s book, to a racy romance, and his latest, YOUR HEALTH IS CRAP: You Are What You Excrete, are now available on Amazon.

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