It’s almost that time of year again! People smile a bit easier, laugh a bit louder, and sing with a bit more joy in their hearts! Leprechauns will hide their gold, bars will dye their beer, and the Chicago River will run green. That’s right…St. Patrick’s Day is nearly upon us! That one very special day when all the world is Irish!
In honor of my favorite holiday, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the legends surrounding the man himself. So, without further ado, here are three facts (or myths) about St. Patrick!
St. Patrick was an Irishman.
This one is definitely not true. Although no records survive from the time, Patrick was born around the year 390, in either England, Scotland, or Wales. And since much of those areas were under Roman-rule at the time, it would be more accurate to say that Patrick was, himself, a Roman.
His parents were Christians, and his father a Deacon. At age 16, Patrick’s home was sacked by Irish raiders. He was taken to Ireland, and spent the next six years as a slave. Eventually, Patrick escaped to England, where he began his religious education.
St. Patrick was actually two different people
This one is possibly true. Before we get into that, we do have to rule out one VERY popular myth: St. Patrick DID NOT bring Christianity to Ireland. The Romans’ get the credit for that. In the year 431, Pope Celestine sent Bishop Palladius to Ireland as a missionary. A large amount of the then Pagan population had already converted, and the Pope believed that the Emerald Isle was primed for a full-on religious revolution.
But, (and this is a big BUT) what if Bishop Palladius and St. Patrick were one in the same? Multiple theories suggest this is not only possible, but possibly probable. (Patrick was, afterall the son of a Deacon.) And since there is no more surviving documentation detailing the exploits of Bishop Palladius than there is St. Patrick, this theory is just as good as any other. Besides, I may not be a theologian, but I’m pretty sure a Saint outranks a Bishop.
St. Patrick banished all snakes from Ireland
This one is true…definitely true! Don’t even bother to fact-check me! I hate snakes, so it’s true! St. Patrick tore through the rolling Irish hills on his Harley Davidson 1923 cc V-twin (yeah they had them back them…it was a prototype) eradicating the evil snakes with his powerful sermons! The snakes were so frightened that they all slithered into the sea and never came back! That’s definitely how it happened!
Or…maybe, you know, it was like geology, or something. Ireland has been surrounded by pretty cold water since the last glacial-period. And before that, the island was kind of frozen. Cold-blooded animals like reptiles don’t really dig that. So, I guess it’s SLIGHTLY possible that it’s a natural phenomenon. But my thing is WAY better!
So this year, while you’re picking out your favorite green shirt, and deciding what bar to hit, take a moment to remember what it is we are celebrating! It’s not so much a single man, a place, or even a group of people. We’re celebrating an idea…the idea that, if we work hard enough, prosperity can be born from the toughest of conditions. So until next time:
“May the dreams you hold dearest be those which come true. And the kindness you spread keep returning to you.”
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
– Matthew Young. HashtagWV #123. March 2020.