A little TRUTH about good ol' St. Patrick...
The REAL St. Patrick ~ by Ted Olsen from Christianity Today
Meet Patrick ~
Allow me to introduce myself. You may have heard of me. My name is Patrick. But before everybody celebrates another day, I decided to come back 1,500 years to set the record straight about who I am and what I've done.
You see, people say all kinds of strange things about me. They draw these pictures of me with a green hat and a red beard, short and putting out my fists or holding a mug of beer. As if I were a leprechaun. They think I carry around three or four leaf clovers. And then there's that legend that I got rid of all the snakes in Ireland. Well, how would you like your memory to forever be associated with slithering reptiles?
First, a few misconceptions about Patrick:
Patrick isn't really a Saint with a capital S, having never been officially canonized by Rome. And Patrick couldn't have driven the snakes out of Ireland because there were never any snakes there to begin with. He wasn't even the first evangelist to Ireland (Palladius had been sent in 431,about five years before Patrick went). Patrick isn't even Irish. He's from what's now Dumbarton, Scotland (just northwest of Glasgow).
Patrick was 16 years old in about the year 405, when he was captured in a raid and became a slave in what was still radically pagan Ireland. Far from home, he clung to the religion he had ignored as a teenager. Even though his grandfather had been a priest, and his father a town councilor, Patrick "knew not the true God." But forced to tend his master's sheep in Ireland, he spent his six years of bondage mainly in prayer. He escaped at the suggestion of a dream and returned home.
Patrick was in his mid-40s when he returned to Ireland.Palladius had not been very successful in his mission, and the returning former slave replaced him. Intimately familiar with the Irish clan system (his former master, Milchu, had been a chieftain), Patrick's strategy was to convert chiefs first, who would then convert their clans through their influence. Reportedly, Milchu was one of his earliest converts.
Though he was not solely responsible for converting the island, Patrick was quite successful. He made missionary journeys all over Ireland, and it soon became known as one of Europe's Christian centers. This, of course, was very important to fifth-century Christians, for whom Ireland was one of the "ends of the earth."
Why the Shamrock?
I got this image from http://www.vbs.blog.com
The shamrock is a symbol both for the Holy Trinity and St. Patrick (389-461). The shamrock is a clover plant with a yellow flower and leaflets made up of a stem with three small green leaves. The plant is very common and widely distributed throughout Ireland.
St. Patrick was a zealous missionary to the Irish, a people who upon his arrival in 432 had heard little or nothing of Jesus and his gospel. St. Patrick was an energetic traveler, a determined evangelizer, and a courageous preacher, and as he canvassed the countryside he was assailed by bitter opponents who threatened his life and undermined his message, but undeterred, he made hundreds and thousands of converts.
Whether St. Patrick was speaking to local pagans who knew nothing of the Christian faith, or to neophytes, newly-baptized disciples who were not well-grounded in the truths of the faith, he was faced with the daunting task of explaining profound mysteries such as the Trinity which are so difficult to understand.
There are several popular legends about how St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the mystery of the Trinity. According to one story, St. Patrick went to Connaught where he met two of King Laoghaire’s daughters, Ethne and Fedelm. St. Patrick had been unable to persuade the king to convert, but he convinced the king’s daughters. During their time of instruction St. Patrick used a shamrock to visualize the mystery of the Trinity, how a single plant with three leaves is analogous to the one Triune God with three separate and distinct Persons (Thurston, H. J., ed., Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Vol. 1, 615).
According to another legend, St. Patrick used a shamrock to help explain the Trinity in a sermon he preached directly to King Laoghaire.
According to a third legend, St. Patrick was traveling and happened upon a number of Irish chieftains along a meadow. The tribal leaders were curious about the Trinity and asked St. Patrick for an explanation. So he bent down, picked a shamrock, and showed it to them, and explained how the three leaves are part of the one plant, and how similarly the three Persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, are part of one Supreme Being.
So, some very interesting FACTS about Maewyn Succat. YES, that's most likely his REAL name, though Patricius was his Romanicized name, and he was later came to be familiar as Patrick!
Have a WONDERFUL day celebrating!
And... take a moment to think about the missionaries around the world spreading the Gospel and also YOUR FAITH, and how blessed we are that so many AMAZING people before us went through SO much to share the LOVE OF GOD!
Here's a FREE vintage image from Vintage Holiday Crafts