Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Today is St Patrick's Day and strangely enough, IMHO, seems to be more cause for celebration than Christmas Day in the US. Many dress up in green clothes, there are town parades across the country, In Chicago the river is dyed green. Lots of festivities. This celebration is presumably because many American immigrants came across the Atlantic from Ireland.

Therefore in honour of the occasion, I thought I should post a few facts about St Patrick. The most interesting fact (to me at least) is that St Patrick, birth name Maewyn Succat, was born in Wales and was educated at a Welsh monastery in Llantwit Major. When he was 16 he was captured by Irish raiders and taken from his native Wales as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After entering the church, he later returned to Ireland as a missionary in the north and west of the island, but little is known about the places where he worked and no link can be made between Patrick and any church. By the eighth century he had become the patron saint of Ireland.

So what is a patron Saint I hear you ask. Well according to Wikipedia, its a saint (i.e. a human being who has been called to holiness) who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, or person. So in English that means that St Patrick is a mediator, a go-between, negotiator, spokesperson between the Irish and God. A bit like a lawyer I guess.

There are patron saints of many things. St David is the patron saint of Wales so is a little closer to my heart than St Patrick. Another well known patron saint is St Christopher, the patron saint of travel. Some of the more unusual patron saints are St Basil the Great (patron saint of hospital administrators), St Genesius of Rome (patron saint of lawyers!) and spare a thought for St Rita, who as the Patron saint of impossible or lost causes must surely have the hardest job of them all.
Neat video below from YouTube showing the dyeing of the Chicago river.
Happy St Patrick's Day to all you Irish or wannabe Irish!

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