St. Patrick’s Day:“The Luck of the Irish”

TR Staff
Staff Writer

By Ellie Boese
I’m hesitant to admit how little I actually know behind the four-leaf-clovers and buttons saying “Kiss me, I’m Irish” pinned to pub-goers’ lapels. If you’re with me, then that’s great—we get to learn a bit together!
St. Patrick’s Day is held in observance of the death of Ireland’s Patron Saint (you guessed it: St. Patrick). Here’s something interesting, though: St. Patrick was born in Britain—not Ireland—close to the end of the fourth century. His parents were quite wealthy and his father was a Christian deacon. He was taken to Ireland at the age of 16 when he was captured by Irish raiders who attacked his family’s estate, after which Patrick spent six years in captivity. He spent most of his time working outdoors, away from other people, as a shepherd. His loneliness and fear prompted him to turn to his religion for consolation and he became a devout Christian.
St. Patrick finally escaped after six years of imprisonment, returning to Britain and experiencing a dream or vision where an angel spoke to him, telling him to travel back to Ireland as a missionary. He began what became more than 15 years of religious training before his ordination as a priest, after which he was sent to Ireland to convert and minister to Irish Christians.
Because he had spent an extended period of time in Ireland as a captive, St. Patrick was familiar enough with Irish language and culture to incorporate Irish traditions into his Christian lessons and messages. His choice to incorporate those traditions appears a smart way to go about converting Irish people to Christianity without alienating them from their native beliefs. For example, it’s reported that he used the Irish symbol of the three-leaf clover to explain the Holy Trinity (also a symbol of hope, love and faith—a fourth leaf, if there is one, symbolizes luck).
Additionally, he used the incredibly powerful Irish symbol—the sun—to superimpose onto a cross to make the new symbol more natural to Irish-natives. This cross St. Patrick created is now called a Celtic cross.
Something else interesting to note: the Catholic Church never actually canonized Patrick as a saint, though he’s known as the “patron saint” of Ireland. At the time he was alive, the first millennium, the Catholic Church had no formal process by which to canonize saints. So Patrick, after becoming a priest and spreading Christianity through Ireland, was evidently proclaimed a saint by
He may be known as the patron saint of Ireland, but Patrick was never actually canonized by the Catholic Church. This is simply due to the era he lived in. During the first millennium, there was no formal canonization process in the Catholic Church. After becoming a priest and helping to spread Christianity throughout Ireland, Patrick was likely proclaimed a saint
Speaking of saints, here’s something interesting: St. Patrick’s Day was considered a religious holiday until the 1970s, which meant that all pubs in the country were closed by law. Later, the Irish realized their potential to attract a lot of tourists for the holiday and got the beer a-flowing. Cheers!