The Irish culture has been significatly shaped by Christianity which arrived in Ireland in 5th century A.D. with the preachings of Saint Patrick.
The Saint is said to have travelled all over the country spreading the word of Christ. It was at the hill of Tara, a mound in country Meath (considered the religious capital of Eire in ancient times) where he picked a three-leaf clover or shamrock to illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity. He made such an impression on the crowds that ever since the shamrock has been synonymous with Eire.
One of the myths surrounding St. Patrick is that he is said to have banished all snakes from the Emerald Isle and to this day you will not find a snake anywhere except in zoos.
“In Dublin’s fair city...” a parade takes place with floats, Irish dancers, bands and even groups from as far afield as America and Australia take part. Because of the tradition of emigration in Ireland this day has also a special meaning in cities in America such as Boston or New York. Rivers are coloured green and green Guinness flows freely. The event is considered one of the most important in New York’s calendar .
It is a festivity enjoyed by all, some wear shamrock on their lapels and the whole country goes to mass dressed in green. It is customary among Irish people all over the world to send one another cards with wishes of a Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
St Patrick is known as the patron saint of Ireland. True, he was not a born Irish. But he has become an integral part of the Irish heritage, mostly through his service across Ireland of the 5th century.
Patrick was born in the later half of the 4th century AD. There are differing views about the exact year and place of his birth. According to one school of opinion, he was born about 390 A.D., while the other school says it is about 373 AD. Again, his birth place is said to be in either Scotland or Roman England. His real name was probably Maewyn Succat. Though Patricius was his Romanicized name, he was later came to be familiar as Patrick.
Patrick was the son of Calpurnius, a Roman-British army officer. He was growing up as naturally as other kids in Britain. However, one day a band of pirates landed in south Wales and kidnapped this boy along with many others. Then they sold him into slavery in Ireland. The was there for 6 years, mostly imprisoned. This was when changes came to him. He dreamed of having seen God. Legend says, he was then dictated by God to escape with a getaway ship.
Finally, he did escape and went to Britain. And then to France. There he joined a monastery and studied under St. Germain, the bishop of Auxerre. He spent around 12 years in training. And when he became a bishop he dreamed that the Irish were calling him back to Ireland to tell them about God. The Confessio, Patrick's spiritual autobiography, is the most important document regarding this. It tells of a dream after his return to Britain, in which one Victoricus delivered him a letter headed "The Voice of the Irish."
So he set out for Ireland with the Pope's blessings. There he converted the Gaelic Irish, who were then mostly Pagans, to Christianity. He was confident in the Lord, he journeyed far and wide, baptizing and confirming with untiring zeal. And, in a diplomatic fashion he brought gifts to a kinglet here and a lawgiver there,but accepted none from any.
Indeed, Patrick was quite successful at winning converts. Through active preaching, he made important converts even among the royal families. And this fact upset the Celtic Druids. Patrick was arrested several times,but escaped each time. For 20 years he had traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid him in his conversion. He developed a native clergy, fostered the growth of monasticism, established dioceses, and held church councils.
Patrick's doctrine is considered...