Extract from the St. Patrick's Day 2006 Holy Mass in St Carthage's Catholic Church!
theories exist as to the origins of St.Patrick, but the only
certain fact, is that
It is thought that Patrick originally belonged to a Romanised Christian community in the west of Britain, although historians have argued for years about whether his home place was on the Welsh or Scottish coasts.
In the fourth century, the kidnapping and taking of slaves in Britain by invading Irish raiders was quite common, and eventually the young future saint himself, became a victim of one of these raids, and was taken to Ireland, where he was auctioned off at a slave market to a rich druid from Co.Antrim, and put to work as a herdsman / shepherd.
During his six years of captivity, Patrick held on to his Christian beliefs, and was reputed to have prayed as much as 100 times a day.
While a slave, he also learned to speak Irish and became very familiar with druid ceremonies and customs, gaining knowledge, which was later to prove very valuable in his quest to convert the Irish Celtic chiefs and their subjects. Patrick eventually made his escape and returned home to Britain,where some time after, legend says he had a vision or dream telling him to return to Ireland and spread the Christian message to its people.
Not an easy choice to make,but it is believed that before his return,he studied for the priesthood in monasteries in France and elsewhere and was eventually ordained with the name Patrick by the Bishop of Auxerre, St. Germanus.
Patrick returned to Ireland in the year 432ad or there-abouts, and began his mission, eventually becoming the Bishop of Armagh, and although there were already Christian missionaries in Ireland, like St Declan of Ardmore, most seemed to have concentrated there efforts in localised areas such as County Waterford.
What makes St. Patrick unique,was that he set himself the task of trying to convert the whole of Ireland, beginning first with the powerful and the rich. One of his high profile and powerful converts was St.Brigid, a druid princess, who after becoming a Christian, built a monastic house, and founded an order of monks and nuns in Kildare, where she was later to become Ireland's first female Patron Saint.
Legend says that St.Patrick used the three leaved shamrock to try to explain the concept of the Blessed Trinity to the pagans, ie.The three persons in one God.
St. Patrick travelled widely over the years, encountering battles of both the physical and spiritual sort, and was often in great personal danger from blood thirsty druids and Celts, but he prayed to God and sustained by his beliefs, continued to preach, convince, baptise and confirm all those he met.
The saint founded many churches, and dedicated many old pagan sites and ancient druid healing wells to Christ, and so well loved was he and St. Brigid, that for many generations, Irish parents would only choose these names for their children.
It seems ironic, that so many parades taking place around the country on the saints feast day this week, are more likely to focus on the very snakes and demons the saint 'banished,'rather than on the Christianity he gave us.
Croagh Patrick, in County Mayo, where St. Patrick reputedly spent much time fasting, in penance and in prayer,was once used as a site for pre Christian Druid rituals and human sacrifice. Each year in July, many thousands of pilgrims climb this holy mountain bare foot, as a penance for their sins, although throughout most of the summer months, a steady stream of people can be observed daily making their way up the difficult route to the summit.
One wonders if St. Patrick had just arrived on our shores today,what kind of conversion campaign he might have organised and whether he would have concentrated more on sorting out the dangers to our people from the ever growing cult of the celtic 'tiger' and the New Age philosophies, than from banishing snakes from our shores.
The saints feast day is now celebrated on a global level and this week many of our shamrock laden politicians great and small, will be jetting off to Europe, the USA and beyond. where they will more than likely be meeting quite a number of 1st., 2nd., and 3rd. generation 'Irish' , who owe their catholic and christian faith to the efforts of our Patron Saint,Patrick, so long ago.
Although many people nowadays associate his feastday with alcohol and over indulgence, a group of Church of Ireland Christians based in Dublin, are appealing for people to log on http://www.prayonstpatricksday.com/ and register to offer a prayer on Friday for Ireland and its people.
St. Patrick, the first Bishop of Armagh, is reputed to have died on March 17th. in the year of Our Lord 461 AD.
Old Irish blessing...... Original Prayer
Old Irish Blessing.... Original Prayer
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