According to an article at the Christianity.com website, the first American celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was held in 1737 and was sponsored by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston. As you know, there have been a great many celebrations ever since – from the famous parades in New York City and Boston, to the ‘wearin o’ the green’ most every where else.
I am finding that readers are locating this older post this weekend via Google so thought I would make a more general re-post for those who might like a reminder of what the day is about, and am revisiting my post on Saint Patrick from 2011 … hoping there are potentially enough new readers that you might not mind. Have a marvelous – and perhaps more mindful celebration!
Patrick was born near Dumbarton in Scotland in 387 to a wealthy Roman family but was kidnapped by Irish marauders when he was 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. He became a shepherd and tended his master’s flocks for six years.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “He relates in his “Confessio” that during his captivity while tending the flocks he prayed many times in the day: “the love of God”, he added,
“and His fear increased in me more and more, and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain; nor was there any slothfulness in me, such as I see now, because the spirit was then fervent within me.”
After the six years, Patrick felt prompted by an angel to escape and traveled 200 miles on foot to join a ship that was returning to his homeland. He quickly rejoined his friends but found that his heart had drawn close to God and his desire was to return to Ireland to preach Christianity and free people from the hold that the Druids had on the culture.
As you might imagine, there are many stories about Patrick’s life. You may have even heard one or two. Some scholars believe that there are actually two Patrick’s (Patrick and Palladius, who was sent to Ireland by Pope Celestine I in 431 to be the first bishop in Ireland) whose stories overlap. I don’t know. What I do know of Patrick is that he was faithful, even in adversity as a slave. He prayed for the people of Ireland and his heart was changed so that he returned to share the good news of Christ.