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Essays and Such

Irish Cultural Society

of San Antonio Texas

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Promoting Awareness of Irish Culture

An Saint Patrick's Day
by UNK
Real Reason For Celebrating Saint Patrick's Day

Saint Patrick 2

The Real Reason For Celebrating Saint Patrick's Day

The Real Reason For Celebrating Saint Patrick's Day
Underneath the gaiety of Saint Patrick's Day, there lies the 
commemoration of a great religious figure, a man whose name in 
Latin was Patricius, or Patrick in its Irish version. America 
celebrates March 17 as a festive occasion, featuring shamrocks, 
leprechauns, wearing of the green, parades and even green beer. 
On that day, everyone can be Irish and join in the merriment.
Patrick was the Father of Celtic Christianity. Some historians 
believe he saved Christianity from destroying itself. His life 
was filled with fabulous adventure. In his teen years, he was 
kidnapped from his home in Vales and taken to Ireland. He was 
enslaved and labored as a shepherd. Six years later he escaped to 
France, received a superior education and became a priest. He 
returned in 432AD and remained Ireland's Bishop until his death on 
March 17, 461 AD.
His entry into the pagan environment of Eire made him the first 
Christian missionary who traveled outside the influence of the 
Roman Empire. He set the standard for what became known as 
evangelism. This amazing individual lived in the time period when 
lack of stability characterized Christianity throughout the Roman 
Empire. The organized Church centered in Rome and Constantinople 
came near to destructi­on. Ireland's remoteness kept it from being 
affected by this turmoil. The Celtic homeland was isolated enough 
to be completely heathen with beliefs and practices called Druidism. 
Patrick's success in converting this pagan community to Christianity 
set the standard for what eventually became known as evangelism.
Patrick successfully integrated selected pagan practices with 
Christian concepts. Under his persuasive leadership, Irish Cells 
accepted Christianity without being forced to totally abandon the 
ideas they had held for centuries. One marvelous example came from 
the Druid worship of the sun, symbolized by a circle. Patrick came 
up with the idea of joining the Circle with the cross and that 
allowed the new converts to accept the Celtic cross as the symbol 
of their own personal form of Christianity.
Various legends have been linked with Patrick A prominent one 
involves the shamrock. This flower was the sign of Brigit an 
ancient Druid triple goddess.  With ingenious subtlety, Patrick 
used the shamrock's three petals as the means of getting the Celts 
to understand and accept the concept of the Trinity - the Father, 
Son and Holy Spirit. The mischievous deliverers of Good Luck, the 
Leprechauns, became the emblem of Saint Patrick Day festivals. 
The most prominent yam, and probably the most questionable, is the 
assertion that Patrick rid the Emerald Isle of snakes by leading 
them all into the sea - evidence indicates there may have never 
been any snakes in Ireland.
While the rest of the civilized world was falling into darkness, 
Patrick and his followers kept alive the light of truth and 
knowledge. He educated monks, nuns and everyday Irish folk, and 
turned a backward pagan society into the finest Christian community 
of its time. Monasteries, convents and colleges and village schools 
built in his lifetime were dedicated to preserving the wisdom and 
knowledge that had accumulated over the ages. Some of them still 
exist.
The legacy Patrick left behind is where the real importance of his 
work can be found. The civilized world went astray during his 
lifetime, and his contribution may have been the strongest element 
in saving it. The Roman Empire disappeared. Corruption, war, 
distortion and chaos were everywhere. Christianity divided itself 
into competing factions. Evil forces were driving toward blind 
obedience and ignorance for all but an elite few. The people of the 
world seemed to be moving backward and needed help in finding a way 
to return to progress. They found it in Saint Patrick and his 
followers.
A 20th century bestseller book by Thomas Cahill skillfully narrates 
the story of Patrick's role. The title, "How the Irish Saved Western 
Civilization," might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the book does 
reflect a basic truth. Ireland's remoteness kept it apart from the 
negative influences that led Europe into the Dark Ages. While 
manuscripts and libraries were being destroyed in the rest of the 
world, Irish monks com­mitted themselves to preserving both pagan 
and Christian records of civilization. Ireland was in every sense 
an island of learning and wisdom.
The contribution of Irish monks and scribes may well have been the 
most important factor in the transition of Christianity from 
darkness to light Sound principles reappeared, but it took a few 
centuries. When Roman Catholicism reestablished itself and the 
Protestant Reformation came to pass, European culture and practices 
of the Christian Church took on a decidedly Irish perspective. Bits 
and pieces of Saint Patrick's legacy can be found in contemporary 
religions. March 17 can and should be a day of gaiety and fun, but 
it should also be the remembrance of a man who helped everybody. 
The world is better because he passed by.