Created on: March 03, 2013 Last Updated: March 04, 2013
Each year, on March 17, Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated. Many do not think beyond wearing green, drinking green beer, and watching parades, to think what the true meaning is behind this day.
Feast days have traditionally been held on the anniversary of a saint’s death. It is meant to be a time of reflection on the saint’s life. Every saint has a feast day, even those whose date of death is not known. This is the case of Saint Patrick.
In the year 405, Patrick was about 16 years old. He was taken from Scotland to be made a slave in Ireland. At that time Ireland was considered a pagan country. Patrick had been taught his Christian faith from the early days of his life, by his grandfather, a priest. This faith is what helped him through this time of captivity. As he had to watch after his master’s sheep in Ireland, he spent most of the time in prayer. Eventually, Patrick was able to escape and he returned home.
Patrick returned to Ireland when he was in his 40s. Another missionary, Palladius, had gone to Ireland about five years before Patrick, but he felt like his trip was not successful. Patrick’s time as a slave allowed him to have a familiarity with the Irish clan system, so he felt to be successful he had to bring the chiefs to Christ first. These chiefs would then bring this faith to their clan, who would follow if the chief desired it.
As he traveled throughout the island, Patrick was able to convert most of the clans. Ireland was soon to be known as one of the Christian centers in Europe. Others would look on this work by Patrick to be amazing as Ireland was considered a place that would never give up their pagan ways.
Saint Patrick’s Day is observed by the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. It is a day of seriousness and a holy day. The Church of Ireland also observes this day with liturgical programs and the allowance of breaking of Lenten fasts.
Until the 1970s it was illegal for pubs to be open on Saint Patrick’s Day. Then in 1995, this day was seen as a way to promote all-things Irish to the world. Today the celebrations that take place on this day, do not celebrate this man’s life as much as it is a reason to celebrate with a festivals in Ireland and around the world.
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