This was my 4th time to sit under the shade of the majestic pine trees and enjoy the spectacle of an outdoor mass. Last year, it was 40 plus degrees, we melted. The year before that, it rained…the year previous to that? I have no idea! That is far too long ago for the ol brain cells!! This year though…DIVINE. A light breeze, 30 degrees, not a cloud in the sky.
It got me thinking though…who was St Pat? Why do we celebrate and why do we wear green??
Seems that Poor Ol Pat (born 387 AD) was stolen from his rich families’ estate in Roman Britain (Wales) as a young man (age 16) by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland. He lived as a slave to a Druidical high priest for 6 years, working as a shepherd. Outdoors, away from conversation and company and being very lonely, Patrick turned to the Christian faith for solace. He dreamt of converting the Irish people away from paganism and the rule of the Druids.
At the age of 22, he escaped and returned to his family where he chose to study to be a priest, with the dream of returning to Ireland as a missionary. He was familiar with the Irish language and customs and when he eventually returned to Ireland, he evangelised by incorporating the Irish traditional rituals into his teachings on Christianity, such as superimposing a sun, originally a powerful Irish pagan symbol, onto the Christian cross, to create what is now known as the Celtic cross. He baptised without payment and ordained priests to lead new communities. His teachings gradually moved Ireland away from the rule of the Druids to Christianity. And leaving Patrick as the great apostle of Ireland!
St Patrick’s Day, March 17th is actually the day of his death. (AD 461)
Originally, St Pats day was a Catholic holiday, only celebrated in Ireland. Immigration, particularly to the US, bought St Patrick’s Day to many other parts of the globe, where it is celebrated a lot more colorfully than in Ireland!
Blue was originally the colour of the day (and so much easier to wear!) but over time green took over in popularity, namely because of Ireland’s nick name as the ‘Emerald Isle’, the green in the Irish flag and the legend of the clover that St Patrick used in his teachings about Catholicism.
So there you have it…in a nutshell!!
So whether it’s St Patricks’s Day 2012, (if you read this in time!) or next year, when you pull on your emerald greens, think of that 16-year-old boy, lonely and afraid and dreaming of a better life and realise that nothing is impossible when you dream…You may not become an apostle saint but still…dream and dream BIG!!!
Oh and another thing…legend has it that wearing green makes you invisible (the original ‘invisibility cloak’!) to the leprechaun’s who will pinch you if they see you!It also gives us an excuse to have a wonderful afternoon tea!
May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door. (Irish Blessing).