Thursday, March 17, 2011
History of Saint Patrick
Saint Patrick was an Englishman who was abducted by some Irishmen as a child. When he was older, he returned to his native England and became a priest. He then went back to the Emerald Isle to convert pagans there. He's credited with driving the snakes out of Ireland. There never actually were snakes in Ireland for him to drive out! It's actually symbolic. Snakes represent paganism (snakes have long been associated with the pagan fertility-Earth god/goddess pantheon) and the driving of snakes out of Ireland is metaphoric for the conversion of Irish pagans to Christianity. Saint Patrick was unique as a Catholic saint in that he actually deserved to be canonized! He was respectful of the old religion of the Irish and even attempted to incorporate some of their especially strong beliefs into the new religion. He knew that their beliefs were so strong that they'd never convert to a religion that was completely opposite- so he had to adapt a wee bit! This blending of the old and the new is where Irish crosses come from: the pagan eternal round and the Christian cross, and also where St. Brigid comes from: Brighid was a main Celtic goddess and extremely important to the Irish people. The idea of Saint Patrick's Day started in Ireland and was spread all over the world by migrating Irish. Thanks Potato Famine! Because of that, we Irish-Americans have 4-leaf-clover-shaped cookies and Guinness on Saint Patrick's Day! Ballin'!