St. Patrick was a gentleman: he came from decent people. He built a church in Dublin town and on it put a steeple. His father was a Gallagher, his uncle was a Grady, His aunt was an O’Shaughnessy and his mother was a Brady. […] The Wicklow hills are very high so is the hill of Howth, Sir But there’s a hill much higher, still much higher than them both, Sir. On the top of this high hill, St. Patrick preached his sermon: He drove the frogs into the bogs and banished all the vermin.
Despite the verses of this popular song clearly seem to describe the figure of Ireland’s Patron Saint, as regards his background, history fades into legend. Born at the end of the 4th century into a wealthy family, in a small Scottish village that bore the hybrid name of Bannhaven Taberniae, at just 16 years old he was sold as a slave and taken to Ireland to be at the service of the Antrim county governor, working as a shepherd. He was raised in the light of Gaelic tradition and in the shadows of Druid practice. At one point he felt a strong vocation growing inside of him and as an adult studied in various places in France to become a priest. Pope Celestine I gave him the Christian name of Patricius (his previous name was Maewyn Succat) and sent him to Ireland to convert the pagan into Christianity. The Confessio is the main source that helps us retrace the events and personality traits of the evangelizer of Ireland. The story of an escape, of dreams that strengthened his faith and of a mission in a pagan land outside the ecumenical boundaries defined in the first AD centuries. Patrick, actually, may be considered the first Christian missionary following Saint Paul: a bishop who, in his great humbleness, shows to his interlocutors his most human side, without fearing the comparison with other Doctors of the Church his peers.
Tamen, etsi in multis inperfectus sum
Patrick, in the eyes of his interlocutors, was the living proof that the road to conversion goes through the heart and that the Christian God acts, just as He did with him, beyond mundane materiality, in the intimacy of the soul. Because, at the end of the day, Christian salvation, as preached by Patrick, is accessible to all, even to the pagan Barbarians that he saves from the famine. The legends that surround the life of the Saint of Ireland are many, and intertwine with the information one may obtain from the Confessio, whose attribution to the bishop Patrick himself appears dubious (some refer to a posthumous draft by a faithful disciple.) The best-known is, definitely, the legend that tells of when he drove snakes out of the Druid land after spending forty days and forty nights on the Croagh Padraig mountain, a metaphor – probably – of Ireland’s evangelization and the defeat of pagan tradition. One of the most inspiring anecdotes tells of when Patrick was transformed into a deer after invoking God’s protection to escape his enemies. A prayer, possibly the first one in vernacular in the history of Britannia, capable of encompassing the power of the Saint’s preaching and the intertwining of his story, imbued with magic, and Christian faith.
(…) I rise today with to the power of the sky, light of the sun, radiance of the moon, splendor of the fire, rapidity of the lighting, swiftness of the wind, depth of the sea, solidity of the soil, firmness of the rock. (…)
The remembrance of St. Patrick, that falls every year on March 17, the day of his alleged death, today is a festivity and a source of national pride: the Christian missionary element was replaced by the celebration of Irish identity, when Gaelic cities all turn green, the color of the three-leaved shamrock used by Patrick to explain the Holy Trinity to pagans, and now the symbol of Ireland. The shamrock is drowned into traditional Irish beverages like beer or whiskey, wishing for a fertile and prosperous year: nowadays the blend of magic, superstition and Christian faith remains very strong and affects not only Ireland but wherever an Irish community has settled (or, more simply, wherever an Irish pub is located). The first literary indication of a celebration of national identity – rather than of Saint Patricius – outside Ireland is found in AJournal to Stella by (Dubliner) J. Swift, author of the better-known Gulliver travels. In the journal, a collection of letters by Swift while he was in London to deal with an ecclesiastic duty, once paid to the Pope and later transferred to the British Crown, Swift writes about an unusual closure of the Parliament in Westminster on St. Paddy’s Day , in 1713, in a London so richly festooned that one may suspect the whole world was Irish. Actually the first parade honoring the Saint was held in New York in 1762, when a group of soldiers who intended to celebrate their motherland decided to march on the streets, showing and proving their origins.
Today, the importance of St. Patrick’s Day takes on a much wider meaning than one may think: it’s the celebration of the Irish, and not only, because it reminds to the world that the Irish have traveled throughout the centuries, setting up small communities in foreign lands, in the spirit of perfect integration and in mutual respect. In years when traveling out of necessity and not for leisure is increasingly harder to accept; in years when the integration with remote cultures seems so arduous it becomes impossible; in years when communities are separated (a real oxymoron) with walls, raised or just dreaded; in years full of suspicion and mistrust, St. Patrick’s Day powerfully reaffirms the value and sacrifice of those who successfully settled in a community they did not belong to originally. For this reason, in 2017 more than ever before, the Irish Journey for a Safe Blessing traditionally attributed to the Saint of Ireland resonates, and should resonate, in everybody’s soul: those who are about to start a journey, but also those who come back from one, and those who should welcome a traveler who carries the baggage of their existence.
May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rains fall soft upon your fields and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Lampoon Publishing House Srl - Via Olmetto 1, 20123 Milano - Tel. +39 02 87075680
Cod. Fisc. e P.IVA 08934300966 | R.E.A. di Milano n. 2057081 | Capitale sociale 10000,00 euro i.v. Trattamento dei dati
Use the search box to find the product you are looking for.
No products in the cart.