|Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Celebrates St. Patrick Day Liturgy on March 3rd.|
|St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, Photos in this Post taken by Mary Theresa Streck on Celtic Pilgrimage in 2013|
|St. Patrick's Cathedral (Dublin)|
|Visitor Center at St. Patrick's Burial Site ,Downpatrick, Ireland|
|Burial Site of St. Patrick in Downpatrick, Ireland|
Mary Mother of Jesus inclusive Catholic Community at Sun City Center
March 3, 2016
Celebrating the life and teachings of St. Patrick
All: In the name of God the Source of all creation; our Brother Jesus who is
our Way-our Alpha and Omega, and Sofia gifting us with wisdom through the
All: Opening Prayer:
First Reading: “The Elements of Celtic Christianity” by Anthony Duncan
The Picts like the Celts were an emotional, imaginative, romantic and
chivalrous people. They imparted into their practice of Christianity all
the inherited vivacity of their race; and the points of Christian faith to
which they held most strongly were similar to the points to which they had
attached themselves in the ancient pre-Christian religion of the Celts…
Frank Delaney wrote “My Irish ancestors took to Christianity with ease,
adroitness and piety. Given that the Celts were otherwise rebarbative in
their own defense, spiritually and practically , it seems to me at first
glance surprising that they embraced the story of Christ with such facility—
Not at all: religious belief supplied the oxygen in the Celtic aspiration to
immortality, in their ambition to defeat death and the terror it brought.
Christianity produced the hardest and most pragmatic development in the
chain of reconciliation, interpretation, morality and growth. Furthermore,
it offered everything the Celts already had—and more.
The voyage from the oaken grove to communion with Christ took several
thousand years. Like a cabbalistic scroll it charts the Celtic spiritual
ascent through personal magic, tribal ritual, mythology, and scripture. The
earth itself was worshipped in dumb fright, and the sprit connected in awe
with the inanimate-tree, river, and rock. Ritualized recognition of the
animate—beast and bird –was followed by a slow mythological shifting of shapes between animal and human.
Finally, just as Celtic civilization reached it apogee, the Celts
encountered the Son of God, and –glory be!—he, it was found, was human like
themselves and he surrounded himself with real people, the saints.
Here stood the ultimate compliment to Man for having made it safely out of
the ooze. Now any mere human being, fail and flawed, could become immortal—
and important for Heaven’s sake! The terror of death was seen off by the
promise of better things in a beautiful place, an alcove on the golden
And was all this new—this religion, this belief, this mythology, this faith?
No: many of the impulses and the symbols of Celtic paganism received answer
in Christianity. (p 5-6)
This too is an Inspired Word. All: Thanks be to God
Psalm Response: Psalm 100 from Psalms for Praying, an Invitation to
Nan C Merrill
All: Join hands in the great Dance of Life
Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved, all peoples of the earth!
Serve Love with a glad heart!
Join hands in the great Dance of Life!
All: Join hands in the great Dance of Life
Know that the Beloved of your heart is the Divine Presence!
Love created us, and we belong to the Most High;
We are born to be loving, expressions of the Creator’s Divine Plan.
All: Join hands in the great Dance of Life
Open the gates of your heart with gratitude
and enter Love’s court with praise!
Give thanks to the Beloved, bless Love’s holy Name!
All: Join hands in the great Dance of Life
For Love is of God, and lives in your heart forever,
With faith, truth, and joy
Now and in all that is to come. Alleluia! Amen!
All: Join hands in the great Dance of Life
Second Reading Confessions of St Patrick (Chapters 34,59, 38: masculine
language from the translation)
“This is why, never wearied, I tirelessly give thanks to my God, who kept me
faithful on the day I was so sorely tried, so that today I can confidently
offer Him my soul as a living sacrifice—to Jesus Christ my Lord, who
preserved (defended) me from all my tribulations.
Thus I can say to Him, “Who am I , O Lord, and what have You called me
to-do, You who assisted me with Your divine power that now I always praise
and magnify your name among the Gentiles where I may be, and not only in
good days but also in time of danger?” So whatever happens to me, good or
evil I must accept readily and always give thanks to God, who has taught me
to believe in Him always without hesitation.”
This is the Spirit inspired words of St Patrick. All: Thanks be to God
.Gospel Reading Matthew 28: 18-20
The eleven made their way to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had
summoned them. At the sight of the risen Christ they fell down in homage,
though some doubted what they were seeing. Jesus came forward and addressed
them in these words: “All authority has been given me both in heaven and on
earth; go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them
in the name of Abba God, and of the Only Begotten, and of the Holy Spirit.
Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am
with you always, even until the end of the world!” This is the Good News of
Jesus our brother. All: Praise to you our brother Jesus
Prayers of the community
Response: All: God of St Patrick, hear our prayer.
Co-Presider: Blessed are you, God of all creation, through your goodness we
have this bread to offer which earth has given and human hands have made.
This bread is our faith community seeking knowledge of God’s truth taught by
St Patrick to Ireland’s people and from Ireland to all the world. May we
individually and as a community live your vision of peace and healing for
all. This will become for us the bread of life.
All: Blessed be God forever.
Co-Presider: Blessed are you, God of all creation. Through your goodness we
have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and work of human hands. This
drink is our desire to follow the teachings and faith of St Patrick in our
own lives. This wine and juice will become our spiritual drink.
All: Blessed be God forever.
My sisters and brothers let us pray together that our gifts may be
acceptable to God our Creator and soul’s beginning.
All: May God accept these gifts from our hands, for the praise and glory of
God's name, for our wisdom and the knowledge of all the People of God.
Co-Presider: Ever gentle God, We give you thanks for the blessing of
worshiping you as a community. Accept our gifts and our worship. By
offering ourselves may we be filled with your Spirit Source of our faith,
strength and hope. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our brother and
Patrick patron saint of Ireland. Amen.
Eucharistic Prayer from “Celebrate our Mystical Oneness in the Cosmic
Our father/mother recited by all:
Sign of Peace…sung, Peace is flowing…Love is flowing…Faith is flowing
The bread is broken.
All: This is the Creator of all the peoples of the earth including the
faithful Irish of St Patrick’s ministry. Our God of Evolution is the source
who calls each of us to nourish our faith in the Trinity-God our Creator,
Jesus our Brother and Sofia Holy Wisdom. How blessed are we who are called
to the supper of Jesus. May we be who we are--the Body of Christ. May we
be what we eat--the Body of Christ. Amen
Prayers of thanksgiving and final thoughts
Closing Prayer All:
Blessing. Raise hands in mutual blessing
Prayer for the Faithful by Saint Patrick (adapted) All:
May the Strength of God guide you.
May the Power of God preserve you
May the Wisdom of God instruct you
May the Hand of God protect you.
May the Way of God direct you.
May the Shield of God defend you.
May the Angels of God guard you
- Against the snares of the evil one.
May Thy Grace, Loving God,
Always be ours,
This day, Loving God, and forevermore. Amen.
Co-Presiders: Go in the peace of Christ, let our service continue! May St
Patrick be with us as we continue our service for peace and justice. All:
T. PATRICK'S BREASTPLATE
St. Patrick's Breastplate is a popular prayer attributed to one of Ireland’s
most beloved patron saints. According to tradition, St. Patrick wrote it in
433 A.D. for divine protection before successfully converting the Irish King
Leoghaire and his subjects from paganism to Christianity. (The term
breastplate refers to a piece of armor worn in battle.)
More recent scholarship suggests its author was anonymous. In any case, this
prayer certainly reflects the spirit with which St. Patrick brought our
faith to Ireland! St. Patrick's Breastplate, also known asThe Lorica (the
cry of the deer), was popular enough to inspire a hymn based on this text as
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God's strength to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
[Note that people sometimes pray a shorter version of this prayer just with
these 15 lines about Christ above. The conclusion follows below.]
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
When St. Paul referred to putting on the “Armor of God” in his letter to the
Ephesians (6:11) to fight sin and evil inclinations, he could have been
thinking of prayers just like this one! We may not wear combat gear in our
daily lives, but St. Patrick's Breastplate can function as divine armor for
protection against spiritual adversity.
St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world's most popular saints. He was
born in Roman Britain and when he was fourteen or so, he was captured by
Irish pirates during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd
and tend sheep. At the time, Ireland was a land of Druids and pagans but
Patrick turned to God and wrote his memoir, The Confession. In The
Confession, he wrote:
"The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith,
and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a
hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same. I prayed in the woods and
on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or
Patrick's captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having
a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the
coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britain and was
reunited with his family.
A few years after returning home, Patrick saw a vision he described in his
"I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and
he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading:
'The Voice of the Irish.' As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment
that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of
Foclut, which is beside the western sea-and they cried out, as with one
voice: 'We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.'"
The vision prompted his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St.
Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years, and
was later ordained a bishop and sent to take the Gospel to Ireland.
Patrick arrived in Slane, Ireland on March 25, 433. There are several
legends about what happened next, with the most prominent claiming he met
the chieftan of one of the druid tribes, who tried to kill him. After an
intervention from God, Patrick was able to convert the chieftain and preach
the Gospel throughout Ireland. There, he converted many people -eventually
thousands - and he began building churches across the country.
He often used shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity and entire kingdoms were
eventually converted to Christianity after hearing Patrick's message.
Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many
miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living
in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461.
He died at Saul, where he had built the first Irish church. He is believed
to be buried in Down Cathedral, Downpatrick. His grave was marked in 1990
with a granite stone.
In His Footsteps:
Patrick was a humble, pious, gentle man, whose love and total devotion to
and trust in God should be a shining example to each of us. So complete was
his trust in God, and of the importance of his mission, he feared nothing
-not even death.
"The Breastplate," Patrick's poem of faith and trust in God:
"Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me,
Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all
that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger."
More about St. Patrick from Wikipedia
"Patrick of Ireland" redirects here. For the 14th-century writer, see Master
Patrick of Ireland. For other uses, see Saint Patrick (disambiguation).
Saint Patrick (Latin: Patricius; Greek: Πατρίκιος; Proto-Irish:
*Qatrikias; Modern Irish: Pádraig [ˈpˠaːd̪ˠɾˠəɟ]; Welsh: Padrig)
was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland.
Known as the "Apostle of Ireland", he is the primary patron saint of
Ireland, along with Saints Brigit and Columba. He is also venerated in the
Anglican Communion, the Old Catholic Church and in the Orthodox Church as
Equal-to-the-Apostles, and The Enlightener of Ireland.
The dates of Patrick's life cannot be fixed with certainty but, on a
widespread interpretation, he was active as a missionary in Ireland during
the second half of the fifth century. He is generally credited with being
the first bishop of Armagh, Primate of Ireland.
According to the Confessio of Patrick, when he was about 16, he was captured
by Irish pirates from his home in Great Britain, and taken as a slave to
Ireland, looking after animals, where he lived for six years before escaping
and returning to his family. After becoming a cleric, he returned to
northern and western Ireland. In later life, he served as an ordained
bishop, but little is known about the places where he worked. By the seventh
century, he had already come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland.
Saint Patrick's Day is observed on 17 March, which is said to be the date of
his death. It is celebrated inside and outside Ireland as a religious and
cultural holiday. In the dioceses of Ireland, it is both a solemnity and a
holy day of obligation; it is also a celebration of Ireland itself.
Two Latin letters survive which are generally accepted to have been written
by St. Patrick. These are the Declaration (Latin: Confessio) and the
Letter to the soldiers of Coroticus (Latin: Epistola), from which come
the only generally accepted details of his life. The Declaration is the
more important of the two. In it, Patrick gives a short account of his life
and his mission. Most available details of his life are from subsequent
hagiographies and annals, and these are now not accepted without detailed
The reputed burial place of St. Patrick in Downpatrick
The dates of Patrick's life are the subject of conflicting traditions. His
own writings provide nothing that can be dated more precisely than the 5th
century. Patrick's quotations from the Acts of the Apostles follow the
Vulgate, suggesting he was not writing before the early fifth century. The
Letter to Coroticus implies that the Franks were still pagans at the time of
writing: their conversion to Christianity is dated to the period
The Irish annals for the fifth century are not contemporary documents,
but were compiled in the mid-6th century at the earliest. The annals
date Patrick's arrival in Ireland to 432, but this date was probably
artificially chosen to minimise the contribution of Palladius, who was known
to have been sent to Ireland in 431, and maximise that of Patrick. A
variety of dates are given for his death. In 457 "the elder Patrick" (Irish:
Patraic Sen) is said to have died: this may refer to the death of Palladius,
who is said in the Book of Armagh to have also been called Patrick. In
461/2 the annals say that "Here some record the repose of Patrick",;:p.
19 in 492/3 they record the death of "Patrick, the arch-apostle (or
archbishop and apostle) of the Scoti", on 17 March, at the age of
While some modern historians accept the earlier date of c. 460 for
Patrick's death, scholars of early Irish history tend to prefer the later
date of c. 493. Supporting the later date, the annals record that in 553
"the relics of Patrick were placed sixty years after his death in a shrine
by Colum Cille" (emphasis added). The death of Patrick's disciple Mochta
is dated in the annals to 535 or 537,and the early hagiographies
"all bring Patrick into contact with persons whose obits occur at the end of
the fifth century or the beginning of the sixth". However, E. A.
Thompson argues that none of the dates given for Patrick's death in the
Annals is reliable.
"Two Patricks" theory
Irish academic T. F. O'Rahilly proposed the "Two Patricks" theory  which
suggests that many of the traditions later attached to Saint Patrick
actually concerned Palladius, who Prosper of Aquitaine's Chronicle says was
sent by Pope Celestine I as the first bishop to Irish Christians in 431.
Palladius was not the only early cleric in Ireland at this time. The
Irish-born Saint Ciaran Saighir the Elder lived in the later fourth century
(352–402) and was the first bishop of Ossory. Ciaran the Elder along with
Saints Auxilius, Secundinus and Iserninus are also associated with early
churches in Munster and Leinster. By this reading, Palladius was active in
Ireland until the 460s.
Prosper associates Palladius' appointment with the visits of Germanus of
Auxerre to Britain to suppress the Pelagian heresy and it has been suggested
that Palladius and his colleagues were sent to Ireland to ensure that exiled
Pelagians did not establish themselves among the Irish Christians. The
appointment of Palladius and his fellow-bishops was not obviously a mission
to convert the Irish, but more probably intended to minister to existing
Christian communities in Ireland. The sites of churches associated with
Palladius and his colleagues are close to royal centres of the period:
Secundus is remembered by Dunshaughlin, County Meath, close to the Hill of
Tara which is associated with the High King of Ireland; Killashee, County
Kildare, close to Naas with links with the Kings of Leinster, is probably
named for Auxilius. This activity was limited to the southern half of
Ireland, and there is no evidence for them in Ulster or Connacht.
Although the evidence for contacts with Gaul is clear, the borrowings from
Latin into the Old Irish language show that links with Roman Britain were
many. Saint Iserninus, who appears to be of the generation of Palladius,
is thought to have been a Briton, and is associated with the lands of the Uí
Cheinnselaig in Leinster. The Palladian mission should not be contrasted
with later "British" missions, but forms a part of them; nor can the
work of Palladius be uncritically equated with that of Saint Patrick, as was
Slemish, County Antrim, where Saint Patrick is said to have worked as a
shepherd while a slave.
St. Patrick was born in Roman Britain. Calpurnius, his father, was a deacon,
his grandfather Potitus a priest, from Banna Venta Berniae, a location
otherwise unknown, though identified in one tradition as
Glannoventa, modern Ravenglass in Cumbria, England; claims have been
advanced for locations in both Scotland and Wales. Patrick, however,
was not an active believer. According to the Confession of St. Patrick, at
the age of just sixteen Patrick was captured by a group of Irish
pirates. The raiders brought Patrick to Ireland where he was enslaved
and held captive for six years. Patrick writes in The Confession that
the time he spent in captivity was critical to his spiritual development. He
explains that the Lord had mercy on his youth and ignorance, and afforded
him the opportunity to be forgiven of his sins and converted to
Christianity. While in captivity, Saint Patrick worked as a shepherd and
strengthened his relationship with God through prayer eventually leading him
to convert to Christianity.
After six years of captivity he heard a voice telling him that he would soon
go home, and then that his ship was ready. Fleeing his master, he traveled
to a port, two hundred miles away, where he found a ship and with
difficulty persuaded the captain to take him. After three days sailing they
landed, presumably in Britain, and apparently all left the ship, walking for
28 days in a "wilderness", becoming faint from hunger before encountering a
herd of wild boar; since this was shortly after Patrick had urged them to
put their faith in God, his prestige in the group was greatly increased.
After various adventures, he returned home to his family, now in his early
twenties. After returning home to Britain, Saint Patrick continued to
Patrick recounts that he had a vision a few years after returning home:
I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he
carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: "The
Voice of the Irish". As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I
heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which
is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: "We appeal
to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us." 
A. B. E. Hood suggests that the Victoricus of St. Patrick's vision may be
identified with Saint Victricius, bishop of Rouen in the late fourth
century, who had visited Britain in an official capacity in 396.
However, Ludwig Bieler disagrees.
He studied in Europe principally at Auxerre, but is thought to have visited
the Marmoutier Abbey, Tours and to have received the tonsure at Lérins
Abbey. Saint Germanus of Auxerre ordained the young missionary.
Acting on the vision, Patrick returned to Ireland as a Christian
missionary. According to J.B. Bury, his landing place was Wicklow, Co.
Wicklow, at the mouth of the river Inver-dea, which is now called the
Vartry. J.B. Bury suggests that Wicklow was also the port through which
Patrick made his escape after his six years captivity, though offers only
circumstantial evidence to support this. Tradition has it that St
Patrick was not welcomed by the locals and was forced to leave to seek a
more welcoming landing place further north. He rested for some days at the
islands off the Skerries coast, one of which still retains the name of
Inis-Patrick. The first sanctuary dedicated by St. Patrick was at Saul.
Shortly thereafter Benin (or Benignus), son of the chieftain Secsnen, joined
Much of the Declaration concerns charges made against St. Patrick by his
fellow Christians at a trial. What these charges were, he does not say
explicitly, but he writes that he returned the gifts which wealthy women
gave him, did not accept payment for baptisms, nor for ordaining priests,
and indeed paid for many gifts to kings and judges, and paid for the sons of
chiefs to accompany him. It is concluded, therefore, that he was accused of
some sort of financial impropriety, and perhaps of having obtained his
bishopric in Ireland with personal gain in mind.
From this same evidence, something can be seen of St. Patrick's mission. He
writes that he "baptized thousands of people". He ordained priests to
lead the new Christian communities. He converted wealthy women, some of whom
became nuns in the face of family opposition. He also dealt with the sons of
kings, converting them too.
St. Patrick's position as a foreigner in Ireland was not an easy one. His
refusal to accept gifts from kings placed him outside the normal ties of
kinship, fosterage and affinity. Legally he was without protection, and he
says that he was on one occasion beaten, robbed of all he had, and put in
chains, perhaps awaiting execution. Patrick says that he was also "many
years later" a captive for 60 days, without giving details.
Murchiú's life of Saint Patrick contains a supposed prophecy by the druids
which gives an impression of how Patrick and other Christian missionaries
were seen by those hostile to them:
Across the sea will come Adze-head, crazed in the head,
his cloak with hole for the head, his stick bent in the head.
He will chant impieties from a table in the front of his house;
all his people will answer: "so be it, so be it."
The second piece of evidence that comes from Patrick's life is the Letter to
Coroticus or Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus, written after a first
remonstrance was received with ridicule and insult. In this, St. Patrick
writes an open letter announcing that he has excommunicated Coroticus
because he had taken some of St. Patrick's converts into slavery while
raiding in Ireland. The letter describes the followers of Coroticus as
"fellow citizens of the devils" and "associates of the Scots [of Dalriada
and later Argyll] and Apostate Picts". Based largely on an
eighth-century gloss, Coroticus is taken to be King Ceretic of Alt Clut.
Thompson however proposed that based on the evidence it is more likely that
Coroticus was a British Roman living in Ireland. It has been suggested
that it was the sending of this letter which provoked the trial which
Patrick mentions in the Confession.
An early document which is silent concerning Patrick is the letter of
Columbanus to Pope Boniface IV of about 613. Columbanus writes that
Ireland's Christianity "was first handed to us by you, the successors of the
holy apostles", apparently referring to Palladius only, and ignoring
Patrick. Writing on the Easter controversy in 632 or 633, Cummian—it is
uncertain whether this is the Cummian associated with Clonfert or Cumméne of
Iona—does refer to Patrick, calling him our papa, that is pope or
Two works by late seventh-century hagiographers of Patrick have survived.
These are the writings of Tírechán, and Vita sancti Patricii of Muirchu
moccu Machtheni. Both writers relied upon an earlier work, now lost, the
Book of Ultán. This Ultán, probably the same person as Ultan of
Ardbraccan, was Tírechán's foster-father. His obituary is given in the
Annals of Ulster under the year 657. These works thus date from a
century and a half after Patrick's death.
I found four names for Patrick written in the book of Ultán, bishop of the
tribe of Conchobar: holy Magonus (that is, "famous"); Succetus (that is, the
god of war); Patricius (that is, father of the citizens); Cothirtiacus
(because he served four houses of druids).
Muirchu records much the same information, adding that "[h]is mother was
named Concessa." The name Cothirtiacus, however, is simply the Latinized
form of Old Irish Cothraige, which is the Q-Celtic form of Latin
The Patrick portrayed by Tírechán and Muirchu is a martial figure, who
contests with druids, overthrows pagan idols, and curses kings and
kingdoms. On occasion, their accounts contradict Patrick's own writings:
Tírechán states that Patrick accepted gifts from female converts although
Patrick himself flatly denies this. However, the emphasis Tírechán and
Muirchu placed on female converts, and in particular royal and noble women
who became nuns, is thought to be a genuine insight into Patrick's work of
conversion. Patrick also worked with the unfree and the poor, encouraging
them to vows of monastic chastity. Tírechán's account suggests that many
early Patrician churches were combined with nunneries founded by Patrick's
noble female converts.
The martial Patrick found in Tírechán and Muirchu, and in later accounts,
echoes similar figures found during the conversion of the Roman Empire to
Christianity. It may be doubted whether such accounts are an accurate
representation of Patrick's time, although such violent events may well have
occurred as Christians gained in strength and numbers.
Much of the detail supplied by Tírechán and Muirchu, in particular the
churches established by Patrick, and the monasteries founded by his
converts, may relate to the situation in the seventh century, when the
churches which claimed ties to Patrick, and in particular Armagh, were
expanding their influence throughout Ireland in competition with the church
of Kildare. In the same period, Wilfred, Archbishop of York, claimed to
speak, as metropolitan archbishop, "for all the northern part of Britain and
of Ireland" at a council held in Rome in the time of Pope Agatho, thus
claiming jurisdiction over the Irish church.
Other presumed early materials include the Irish annals, which contain
records from the Chronicle of Ireland. These sources have conflated
Palladius and Patrick. Another early document is the so-called First
Synod of Saint Patrick. This is a seventh-century document, once, but no
longer, taken as to contain a fifth-century original text. It apparently
collects the results of several early synods, and represents an era when
pagans were still a major force in Ireland. The introduction attributes it
to Patrick, Auxilius, and Iserninus, a claim which "cannot be taken at face
Symbols and legends
St. Patrick uses shamrock in an illustrative parable
St. Patrick depicted with shamrock in detail of stained glass window in St.
Benin's Church, Kilbennan, County Galway, Ireland
Legend credits St. Patrick with teaching the Irish about the doctrine of the
Holy Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a three-leafed plant, using it
to illustrate the Christian teaching of three persons in one God.
This story first appears in writing in 1726, though it may be older. The
shamrock has since become a central symbol for St Patrick's Day.
In pagan Ireland, three was a significant number and the Irish had many
triple deities, a fact that may have aided St Patrick in his evangelization
efforts when he "held up a shamrock and discoursed on the Christian
Trinity". Patricia Monaghan says there is no evidence that the
shamrock was sacred to the pagan Irish. However, Jack Santino speculates
that it may have represented the regenerative powers of nature, and was
recast in a Christian context. Icons of St Patrick often depict the saint
"with a cross in one hand and a sprig of shamrocks in the other". Roger
Homan writes, "We can perhaps see St Patrick drawing upon the visual concept
of the triskele when he uses the shamrock to explain the Trinity".
St. Patrick banishes all snakes from Ireland
The absence of snakes in Ireland gave rise to the legend that they had all
been banished by St. Patrick chasing them into the sea after they
attacked him during a 40-day fast he was undertaking on top of a hill.
This hagiographic theme draws on the Biblical account of the staff of the
prophet Moses. In Exodus 7:8–7:13, Moses and Aaron use their staffs in their
struggle with Pharaoh's sorcerers, the staffs of each side morphing into
snakes. Aaron's snake-staff prevails by consuming the other snakes.
Image of St. Patrick banishing the snakes
However, all evidence suggests that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes,
as on insular "New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland and Antarctica... So far, no
serpent has successfully migrated across the open ocean to a new terrestrial
home" from Scotland, at one point only some twelve miles from Ireland, where
a few native species have lived, "the venomous adder, the grass snake, and
the smooth snake", as National Geographic notes; sea snakes exist only
in the Pacific and Indian oceans. "At no time has there ever been any
suggestion of snakes in Ireland, so [there was] nothing for St. Patrick to
banish", says naturalist Nigel Monaghan, keeper of natural history at the
National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, who has searched extensively through
Irish fossil collections and records.
St. Patrick's crosses
Main article: List of Saint Patrick's Crosses
Image of St. Patrick showing cross pattée on his robes
There are two main types of crosses associated with St. Patrick, the cross
pattée and the saltire. The cross pattée is the more traditional
association, while the association with the saltire dates from 1783 and the
Order of St. Patrick.
Logo of Down District Council showing the cross pattée
The cross pattée has long been associated with St. Patrick, for reasons that
are uncertain. One possible reason is that bishops' mitres in Ecclesiastical
heraldry often appear surmounted by a cross pattée. An example of
this can be seen on the old crest of the Brothers of St. Patrick. As St.
Patrick was the founding bishop of the Irish church, the symbol may have
become associated with him. St. Patrick is traditionally portrayed in the
vestments of a bishop, and his mitre and garments are often decorated with a
cross pattée.  
The cross pattée retains its link to St. Patrick to the present day. For
example,it appears on the coat of arms of both the Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of Armagh and the Church of Ireland Archdiocese of
Armagh. This is on account of St. Patrick being regarded as the first
bishop of the Diocese of Armagh. It is also used by Down District Council
which has its headquarters in Downpatrick, the reputed burial place at St.
Saint Patrick's Saltire is a red saltire on a white field. It is used in the
insignia of the Order of Saint Patrick, established in 1783, and after the
Acts of Union 1800 it was combined with the Saint George's Cross of England
and the Saint Andrew's Cross of Scotland to form the Union Flag of the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. A saltire was intermittently
used as a symbol of Ireland from the seventeenth century, but without
reference to Saint Patrick.
Photograph of eight home-made badges composed of variously coloured crosses
Traditional St. Patrick's Day badges from the early twentieth century, from
the Museum of Country Life, Castlebar
It was formerly a common custom to wear a cross made of paper or ribbon on
St Patrick's Day. Surviving examples of such badges come in many colours
and they were worn upright rather than as saltires.
Thomas Dinely, an English traveller in Ireland in 1681, remarked that "the
Irish of all stations and condicõns were crosses in their hatts, some of
pins, some of green ribbon." Jonathan Swift, writing to "Stella" of
Saint Patrick's Day 1713, said "the Mall was so full of crosses that I
thought all the world was Irish". In the 1740s, the badges pinned were
multicoloured interlaced fabric. In the 1820s, they were only worn by
children, with simple multicoloured daisy patterns. In the 1890s,
they were almost extinct, and a simple green Greek cross inscribed in a
circle of paper (similar to the Ballina crest pictured). The Irish Times
in 1935 reported they were still sold in poorer parts of Dublin, but fewer
than those of previous years "some in velvet or embroidered silk or poplin,
with the gold paper cross entwined with shamrocks and ribbons".
St. Patrick's walking stick grows into a living tree
Some Irish legends involve the Oilliphéist, the Caoránach, and the Copóg
Phádraig. During his evangelising journey back to Ireland from his parent's
home at Birdoswald, he is understood to have carried with him an ash wood
walking stick or staff. He thrust this stick into the ground wherever he was
evangelising and at the place now known as Aspatria (ash of Patrick) the
message of the dogma took so long to get through to the people there that
the stick had taken root by the time he was ready to move on.
St. Patrick speaks with ancient Irish ancestors
The twelfth-century work Acallam na Senórach tells of Patrick being met by
two ancient warriors, Caílte mac Rónáin and Oisín, during his evangelical
travels. The two were once members of Fionn mac Cumhaill's warrior band the
Fianna, and somehow survived to Patrick's time. In the work St. Patrick
seeks to convert the warriors to Christianity, while they defend their pagan
past. The heroic pagan lifestyle of the warriors, of fighting and feasting
and living close to nature, is contrasted with the more peaceful, but
unheroic and non-sensual life offered by Christianity.
The version of the details of his life generally accepted by modern
scholars, as elaborated by later sources, popular writers and folk piety,
typically includes extra details such that Patrick, originally named Maewyn
Succat, was born in 387 AD in (among other candidate locations, see above)
Banna venta Berniae to the parents Calpernius and Conchessa. At the age
of 16 in 403 AD Saint Patrick was captured and enslaved by the Irish and was
sent to Ireland to serve as a slave herding and tending sheep in
Dalriada. During his time in captivity Saint Patrick became fluent in
the Irish language and culture. After six years Saint Patrick escaped
captivity after hearing a voice urging him to travel to a distant port where
a ship would be waiting to take him back to Britain. On his way back to
Britain Saint Patrick was captured again and spent 60 days in captivity in
Tours, France. During his short captivity within France, Saint Patrick
learned about French monasticism. At the end of his second captivity Saint
Patrick had a vision of Victoricus giving him the quest of bringing
Christianity to Ireland. Following his second captivity Saint Patrick
returned to Ireland and, using the knowledge of Irish language and culture
that he gained during his first captivity, brought Christianity and
monasticism to Ireland in the form of more than 300 churches and over
100,000 Irish baptised.
According to the Annals of the Four Masters, an early-modern compilation of
earlier annals, his corpse soon became an object of conflict in the Battle
for the Body of St. Patrick.
Saint Patrick's Bell
The Shrine of St. Patrick's Bell
The National Museum of Ireland in Dublin possesses a bell (Clog
Phádraig) first mentioned, according to the Annals of Ulster, in
the Book of Cuanu in the year 552. The bell was part of a collection of
"relics of Patrick" removed from his tomb sixty years after his death by
Colum Cille to be used as relics. The bell is described as "The Bell of the
Testament", one of three relics of "precious minna" (extremely valuable
items), of which the other two are described as Patrick's goblet and "The
Angels Gospel". Colum Cille is described to have been under the direction of
an "Angel" for whom he sent the goblet to Down, the bell to Armagh, and kept
possession of the Angel's Gospel for himself. The name Angels Gospel is
given to the book because it was supposed that Colum Cille received it from
the angel's hand. A stir was caused in 1044 when two kings, in some dispute
over the bell, went on spates of prisoner taking and cattle theft. The
annals make one more apparent reference to the bell when chronicling a
death, of 1356: "Solomon Ua Mellain, The Keeper of The Bell of the
Testament, protector, rested in Christ."
The bell was encased in a "bell shrine", a distinctive Irish type of
reliquary made for it, as an inscription records, by King Domnall Ua
Lochlainn sometime between 1091 and 1105. The shrine is an important example
of the final, Viking-influenced, style of Irish Celtic art, with intricate
Urnes style decoration in gold and silver. The Gaelic inscription on the
shrine also records the name of the maker "U INMAINEN" (which translates to
"Noonan"), "who with his sons enriched/decorated it"; metalwork was often
inscribed for remembrance.
The bell itself is simple in design, hammered into shape with a small handle
fixed to the top with rivets. Originally forged from iron, it has since been
coated in bronze. The shrine is inscribed with three names, including King
Domnall Ua Lochlainn's. The rear of the shrine, not intended to be seen, is
decorated with crosses while the handle is decorated with, among other work,
Celtic designs of birds. The bell is accredited with working a miracle in
1044 and having been coated in bronze to shield it from human eyes, for
which it would be too holy. It measures 12.5 × 10 cm at the base, 12.8 × 4
cm at the shoulder, 16.5 cm from base to shoulder, 3.3 cm from shoulder to
top of handle and weighs 1.7 kg.
St. Patrick and Irish identity
St. Patrick features in many stories in the Irish oral tradition and there
are many customs connected with his feast day. The folklorist Jenny
Butler discusses how these traditions have been given new layers of
meaning over time while also becoming tied to Irish identity both in Ireland
and abroad. The symbolic resonance of the St. Patrick figure is complex and
multifaceted, stretching from that of Christianity’s arrival in Ireland to
an identity that encompasses everything Irish. In some portrayals, the saint
is symbolically synonymous with the Christian religion itself. There is also
evidence of a combination of indigenous religious traditions with that of
Christianity, which places St Patrick in the wider framework of cultural
hybridity. Popular religious expression has this characteristic feature of
merging elements of culture. Later in time, the saint becomes associated
specifically with Catholic Ireland and synonymously with Irish national
identity. Subsequently, St. Patrick is a patriotic symbol along with the
colour green and the shamrock. St. Patrick's Day celebrations include many
traditions that are known to be relatively recent historically, but have
endured through time because of their association either with religious or
national identity. They have persisted in such a way that they have become
stalwart traditions, viewed as the strongest "Irish traditions".
Sainthood and modern remembrance
The neo-gothic St Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, as seen from
17 March, popularly known as St. Patrick's Day, is believed to be his death
date and is the date celebrated as his Feast Day. The day became a
feast day in the Catholic Church due to the influence of the Waterford-born
Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding, as a member of the commission for the
reform of the Breviary in the early part of the seventeenth century.
For most of Christianity's first thousand years, canonisations were done on
the diocesan or regional level. Relatively soon after the death of people
considered very holy, the local Church affirmed that they could be
liturgically celebrated as saints. As a result, St. Patrick has never been
formally canonised by a Pope; nevertheless, various Christian churches
declare that he is a Saint in Heaven (he is in the List of Saints). He is
still widely venerated in Ireland and elsewhere today.
St. Patrick is honoured with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the
Episcopal Church (USA) and with a commemoration on the calendar of
Evangelical Lutheran Worship, both on 17 March. St. Patrick is also
venerated in the Orthodox Church, especially among English-speaking Orthodox
Christians living in Ireland, the UK and in the USA. There are Orthodox
icons dedicated to him.
St. Patrick is said to be buried at Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County
Down, alongside St. Brigid and St. Columba, although this has never been
proven. Saint Patrick Visitor Centre is a modern exhibition complex located
in Downpatrick and is a permanent interpretative exhibition centre featuring
interactive displays on the life and story of Saint Patrick. It provides the
only permanent exhibition centre in the world devoted to Saint Patrick.
Places associated with Saint Patrick
Slemish, County Antrim
St Patrick's statue at Saul, County Down
St Patrick's Oratory at the top of Croagh Patrick, County Mayo
* Slemish, County Antrim and Killala Bay, County Mayo
When captured by raiders, there are two theories as to where Patrick was
enslaved. One theory is that he herded sheep in the countryside around
Slemish. Another theory is that Patrick herded sheep near Killala Bay, at a
place called Fochill.
* Saul, County Down (from Irish: Sabhall Phádraig, meaning "Patrick's
It is claimed that Patrick founded his first church in a barn at Saul, which
was donated to him by a local chieftain called Dichu. It is also claimed
that Patrick died at Saul or was brought there between his death and burial.
Nearby, on the crest of Slieve Patrick, is a huge statue of Saint Patrick
with bronze panels showing scenes from his life.
* Hill of Slane, County Meath
Muirchu moccu Machtheni, in his highly mythologised seventh-century Life of
Patrick, says that Patrick lit a Paschal fire on this hilltop in 433 in
defiance of High King Laoire. The story says that the fire could not be
doused by anyone but Patrick, and it was here that he explained the holy
trinity using the shamrock.
* Croagh Patrick, County Mayo (from Irish: Cruach Phádraig, meaning
It is claimed that Patrick climbed this mountain and fasted on its summit
for the forty days of Lent. Croagh Patrick draws thousands of pilgrims who
make the trek to the top on the last Sunday in July.
* Lough Derg, County Donegal (from Irish: Loch Dearg, meaning "red
It is claimed that Patrick killed a large serpent on this lake and that its
blood turned the water red (hence the name). Each August, pilgrims spend
three days fasting and praying there on Station Island.
* Armagh, County Armagh
It is claimed that Patrick founded a church here and proclaimed it to be the
most holy church in Ireland. Armagh is today the primary seat of both the
Catholic Church in Ireland and the Church of Ireland, and both cathedrals in
the town are named after Patrick.
* Downpatrick, County Down (from Irish: Dún Pádraig, meaning
It is claimed that Patrick was brought here after his death and buried in
the grounds of Down Cathedral.
Stone found below St. Patrick's Well. St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin,