Saint Patrick, an Irish tale of piracy and prophecy

Evonne Ermey

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No matter where you, your parents or your parents’ parents hail from, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

This holiday, which has come to represent Irish pride and drunken revelry, has evolved a long way from its Catholic origins, which have more to do with pirates than with beer.

St. Patrick may have never become a saint if he hadn’t first been kidnapped by pirates. The son of a Roman-British officer, St. Patrick was carried away like so much stolen booty from his homeland (England) and sold into slavery on the Emerald Isle.

Legend has it that, during this six-year period of servitude, St. Patrick became a conduit of God, receiving messages from the man upstairs, while in the dream state. In dreams God urged him to escape his life of slavery by boarding a ship bound for Britain.

It’s no surprise that, with his inclination to religion upon attaining freedom, St. Patrick joined a monastery and eventually became a bishop. After many years of religious service in France, St. Patrick was again visited in his dreams by a higher power, this time urging him to return to Ireland and bring the word of God to its people.

It took some coaxing, but the mostly pagan Irish population eventually embraced Catholicism as can be seen by the large Catholic community still present on the island today. St. Patrick is accredited with this spiritual change of heart.

While this holiday is celebrated in the States with extravagant parades, green beer, and long shiny strands of Mardi Gras beads, the Irish version has traditionally been more subdued, curiously lacking in leprechaun and shamrock
paraphernalia.

Disregarding lent inspired dietary restrictions (after morning mass of course) is how the Irish traditionally let loose on St. Paddy’s day. Now that’s indulgence.

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