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Friday, March 17, 2006

Seriously, Happy Saint Patrick's Day :)



(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Saint Patrick (386--March 17, 493 AD) was a missionary and is regarded as the patron saint of Ireland (along with Saint Brigid and Saint Columbia). He is also the patron saint of Nigeria (which was evangelized primarily by Irish missionaries, especially priests from Saint Patrick's Missionary Society (also known as the Kiltegan Missionaries)), excluded people, and engineers. Nevertheless, to this day he has not been canonized by the Catholic Church.

He was born somewhere along the west coast of Britain in the little settlement or village of Bannavem of Taburnia (vico banavem taburniae in his Confessio), which has never been identified with certainty. Sites suggested include Dumbarton, Furness, and Somerset, or the coastline of Wales or northern France; another possibility put forward for his birthplace is the settlement of Bannaventa in Northamptonshire, for raiders captured him with "many thousands of people" according to Patrick's autobiographical Confessio, and sold them as slaves in Ireland. The tiny Welsh village of Banwen has often been suggested as his birth place. It was clearly occupied in Roman times, sitting on the Neath-Brecon Roman road and next to the two Roman forts in Coelbren.

Although he came from a Christian family, he was not particularly religious before his capture. However, Patrick's enslavement markedly strengthened his faith. It was at this time he learned the native Celtic language and the customs of the druids, as his master was a druidic high priest. He escaped at the age of twenty-two, as legend has it, under the direction of an angel, and spent twelve years in a monastery in Auxerre, where he adopted the name Patrick (Patricius, in Old Irish spelled Pádraig).

One night he heard voices begging him to return to Ireland, and he thus, by then in his thirties, became one of the first Christian missionaries in Ireland, being preceded by Palladius (died c.457/461).

Britain at this time was undergoing turmoil following the withdrawal of Roman troops in 407 and Roman central authority in 410. Having been under the Roman cloak for over 350 years, the Romano-British were having to look after themselves. Populations were on the move on the European continent, and the recently converted Christian Britain was being colonised by pagan Anglo-Saxons.

His first converted patron was Saint Dichu, who made a gift of a large sabhall (barn) for a church sanctuary. This first sanctuary dedicated by St Patrick became in later years his chosen retreat. A monastery and church were erected there, and there Patrick died; the site, Saul County Down, retains the name Sabhall (pronounced "Sowel").

Patrick set up his see at Armagh, and organized the church into territorial sees, as elsewhere in the West and East. While Patrick encouraged the Irish to become monks and nuns, it is not certain that he was a monk himself. It is even less likely that in his time the monastery became the principal unit of the Irish Church, although it was in later periods. The choice of Armagh may have been determined by the presence of a powerful king. There Patrick had a school and presumably a small familia in residence; from this base he made his missionary journeys. There seems to have been little contact with the Palladian Christianity of the southeast.

One famous story relates that at the annual vernal fire that was to be lit by the High King at Tara, when all the fires were extinguished so they could be renewed from the sacred fire from Tara, Patrick lit a rival, miraculously inextinguishable Christian bonfire on the hill of Slane at the opposite end of the valley. The season was associated with Easter by chroniclers who followed Patrick's own account in his Confessio.

Patrick was not the first Christian missionary to Ireland, as men such as Secundus and Palladius were active there before him. However, tradition accords him the most impact, and his missions seem to have been concentrated in the provinces of Ulster and Connaught which had never received Christians before. He established the Church throughout Ireland on lasting foundations: he travelled throughout the country preaching, teaching, building churches, opening schools and monasteries, converting chiefs and bards, and everywhere supporting his preaching with miracles. He threw down the idol of Crom Cruach in Leitrim.

Patrick wrote that he daily expected to be violently killed or enslaved again. His Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus protested British slave trading and the slaughter of a group of Irish Christians by Coroticus's raiding Christian Welshmen, and is the first surely identified literature of the British or Celtic Celtic Church. Patrick gathered many followers, including Saint Benignus, who would become his successor. His chief concerns were the raising up of native clergy, and abolishing Paganism, idolatry, and Sun-worship. He made no distinction of classes in his preaching and was himself ready for imprisonment or death. He was the first writer to condemn all forms of slavery.

Pious legend credits Patrick with banishing snakes from the island, though post-glacial Ireland never actually had snakes; one suggestion is that snakes referred to the serpent symbolism of the Druids of that time and place, as shown for instance on coins minted in Gaul, or that it could have referred to beliefs such as Pelagianism, symbolized as "serpents." Legend also credits Patrick with teaching the Irish about the concept of the Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a three-leaved clover, using it to highlight the Christian dogma of 'three divine persons in the one God' (as opposed to the Arian belief that was popular in Patrick's time).

In his use of Scripture and eschatological expectations, Patrick was typical of the 5th-century bishop. One of the traits which he retained as an old man was a consciousness of being an unlearned exile and former slave and fugitive, who learned to trust God completely.

Patrick died in AD 493, according to the latest reconstruction of the old Irish annals. Prior to the 1940's it was believed without doubt that he died in 461 and thus had lived in the first half of the 5th century. A lecture entitled "The Two Patricks", published in 1942 by T.F. O'Rahilly, caused enormous controversy by proposing that there had been two "Patricks", Palladius and Patrick, and that what we now know of St. Patrick was in fact in part a conscious effort to meld the two into one hagiographic personality. Decades of contention eventually ended with most historians now asserting that Patrick was indeed most likely to have been active in the mid-to-late 5th century.

The compiler of the Annals of Ulster stated that in the year 553:

"I have found this in the Book of Cuanu: The relics of Patrick were placed sixty years after his death in a shrine by Colum Cille. Three splendid halidoms were found in the burial-place: his goblet, the Angel's Gospel, and the Bell of the Testament. This is how the angel distributed the halidoms: the goblet to Dún, the Bell of the Testament to Ard Macha, and the Angel's Gospel to Colum Cille himself. The reason it is called the Angel's Gospel is that Colum Cille received it from the hand of the angel."

The placement of this event under the year 553 would certainly seem to place Patrick's death in 493, or at least in the early years of that decade.

It is believed that March 17 was his death date (according to the Encyclopedia Britannica) and it is the date popularly associated with him as his feast, known as St. Patrick's Day
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3 Comments:

Blogger John said...

I wonder why he hasn't been canonized by the Catholic Church. Hm.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Karen Mojo said...

Your Photo is better than Mine!!!

12:58 AM  
Blogger John said...

Not at all. Just a different genre. Yours is Byzantine.

8:30 AM  

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