A Month of Ireland: What Happened to St. Patrick?

Saint Patrick’s Day has come and gone.  What did you do?  Was there much festivity, music, drinking, dancing?  Did you wear green?  Did you see a leprechaun, or at least a rainbow?

I wore green and I certainly appreciated this Irish-themed holiday.  However, it sometimes boggles my mind how a holiday (holy day?) dedicated to a man of true worth, a hero whose valor and sacrifice helped instigate a wave of conversion across an entire nation, can be pared down to things as mundane as wearing green or drinking too much.

Don’t get me wrong.  While drinking is not a pastime of mine, I am not opposed to celebrating a holiday by having fun with friends and enjoying a concept as hilarious as little men in green chasing rainbows.  Although it does seem like holidays have a habit of becoming increasingly fluffy.  I mean, look at what we did to poor St Valentine’s holiday.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland.

It’s not so much that I think that we shouldn’t celebrate these things with new, entertaining traditions.  Celebrations are meant to be fun, after all. However, I do think that Saint Patrick does deserve at least a little consideration sometime during the festivities.  He isn’t Ireland’s patron saint because of faeries or alcohol. He was a warrior for Ireland’s heart and soul.

saint patrick's cathedral hall
Inside the cathedral.

Many people know the basic story of Saint Patrick: How a young boy raised in Rome-civilized England was kidnapped to be a slave by Irish marauders.  How he escaped and returned home.  How he became a Christian, and then discovered that his calling was to return to the land where he was a slave and free them from their own, darker enslavement.

saint patrick's well dublin ireland

The stories of Saint Patrick range from his driving all the snakes from Ireland to how he challenged the druidic order by cutting down their sacred oak.  Whatever he actually did, Saint Patrick’s legacy is ongoing.  Far, far more than a color, an overindulgence in alcohol, or a fae creature with a predisposition for ginger hair and rainbows, Saint Patrick’s heritage is one of faith and literature.saint patrick's cathedral dublin

My post last week was about a magic cat and the man who wrote about it.  That man’s earnest desire to convey stories, both true and fanciful, to a lost world owes its existence to  the courage and dedication of the heroic Saint Patrick.

So, I hope you wore green.  I hope your day was festive (in moderation!).  But I also hope that those of you who believe as I do, who were able to go to your church for a day of worship, also took a moment to consider that men and women like Saint Patrick, as instruments of their Maker, brought the light into our ancestors’ dark world. We owe them much.

stone bible Saint Patrick's cathedral dublin ireland
A passage from Psalms set in stone in St Patrick’s Cathedral