Of course, March 17 is Saint Patrick’s Day. You probably all know the story, that Patrick was taken as a slave to Ireland, and that he escaped, then went back as a missionary. So many myths and legends have grown up around him, that it is difficult to separate fact from fiction, but here’s what we do know.
Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 CE. He was about sixteen years old when he was taken as a slave, and escaped six years later. Once back in Britain, an angel in a dream told him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than 15 years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission: to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish. Although commonly people believe Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland, this isn’t true. Most Irish were part of a nature religion, but there had been Christians there for many years, long before Rome took over as the arbiter of orthodoxy. What Patrick did was bring Roman Catholicism to Ireland, which eventually took over from the kinder, gentler Celtic Christianity.
Patrick preached for forty years in Ireland, very successfully. He often used the shamrock to explain the holy trinity, and in his pictures, he is often seen holding one. In spite of legend, however, he did not drive the snakes from Ireland, as there were never any there in the first place. Never officially canonized by the Catholic Church, Patrick was proclaimed a saint by the people, and the Irish claim him as their patron saint.
In honor of the day, some Irish blessings
May all your skies be blue ones
May all your dreams be seen,
May all your friends be true ones
And all your joys complete.
May happiness and laughter
Fill all your days for you
Today and ever after
may all your dreams come true.
May good luck be your friend
In whatever you do
And may trouble be always
A stranger to you.
May joy and peace surround you,
Contentment latch your door,
And happiness be with you now
And bless you evermore
May raindrops fall lightly on your brow;
May the soft winds freshen your spirit;
May the sunshine brighten your heart;
May the burdens of the day rest lightly upon you;
And may God enfold you in the mantle of His love.
May the blessings of each day
Be the blessings you need most.
May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rain fall soft upon your fields
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
May the roof above us never fall in,
And may the friends gathered below it never fall out.
May there always be work for your hands to do.
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine on your windowpane.
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you,
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.
May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.
May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven half an hour
Before the devil knows you’re dead.
May your troubles be less
And your blessings be more
And nothing but happiness
Come through your door.
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