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Saint Patrick Miracles & Saint Patrick's Day Traditions


The Miracles of Saint Patrick

The Miracles of Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick of Ireland was a man who became a legend in addition to achieving sainthood in the Catholic Church.  He was born sometime around the year 385 in Scotland, to parents who were Romans.  As a young boy, just fourteen years old, Patrick was taken captive by raiders and hauled off to tend sheep as a slave in Ireland.  At that time, Ireland was a land filled by pagans and Druids.  While in captivity, he learned their language and customs.  At the same time, Patrick would pray frequently to God.  His love was so great that his faith grew large and he prayed even more often, almost continuously. 

Dreams Point the Way for Young Patrick

A few years later, when he was around twenty years old, Patrick had a dream in which God told him to find a way to escape.  He was rescued by friendly sailors who returned him to his family in Britain.  Dreams became a method for Patrick to envision his destiny, and to receive messages. One such message was that a large group of Irish people called to him to return.

He studied for the priesthood and was later ordained a bishop.  His mission was to return to Ireland and teach the people about Jesus and the Gospel.  It was at this point that some of the miracles of Saint Patrick became legendary.  Upon his arrival back in Ireland, one of the tribal chieftains wanted to kill him.  However, the chieftain was not able to move his arm and do the deed.  Once he became friendlier to Patrick, his arm stiffness went away.

The Biggest Miracle of Saint Patrick

Probably the biggest miracle produced by Saint Patrick was his ability to teach the Gospel to a pagan audience and convert them to Christianity.  By the time he was at the end of his life, he had created over 300 churches and baptized over 120,000 persons in Ireland.  He worked in Ireland for over 40 years, but died in poverty on March 17, 461.  In recognition of his achievements and tales of miracles, he was granted sainthood by the Church.  His death occurred in Saul, which was the site of the first church he had built in Ireland.

Resurrection Stories and Tales of Miracles

Among the number of legends and miracles attributed to Saint Patrick are many interesting resurrection stories, including bringing a horse back to life.  In many stories, persons who hated St. Patrick and wanted to do him ill will, were converted by St. Patrick and changed their ways and their tune with regard to him.  There are at least 33 famous resurrection miracle stories involving St. Patrick.  These include the raising up from the dead of an assortment of women, children, brothers and sisters, princes and princesses.  The ultimate outcome of each story is a renewal of faith, goodness, and redemption.

Other miracles included the story of sailors that were starving, with no food. St. Patrick told the doubting sailors to have faith in God, and suddenly a herd of pigs appeared.  He is said to have healed and brought back to life several mad cows owned by his aunt.  In another incident, Patrick brought his foster father back to life following a sudden collapse.  When his sister slipped and fell and received death blow to the head, he made the sign of the cross on her forehead.  She awoke and from then on bore that white cross on her forehead.  He stopped a flood and created warm fires in yet another story of his famous miracles. 

Saint Patrick and the Shamrock

The shamrock was a small miracle for St. Patrick.  It made things easier for him when trying to explain the concept of the Trinity, the three-in-one representation of God as the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  This is fitting for a simple man who gently led tens of thousands to trust in God.  He was fearless and had total trust in God throughout his life of devotion to God.  He was blessed in the eyes of the Lord even as a baby.  The day he was christened, there were three miracles, according to local legends.  A need for water where there was none developed into the first miracle, as water sprang from the ground after the blind priest took Patrick’s baby hand and made a cross sign over the ground.  In a second miracle that day, as the priest wiped off his own face, he suddenly gained vision.  The third miracle was the sudden ability of that formerly blind priest to be able to read the baptism words over Saint Patrick.

A Place of Honor

To honor of all his good works, miracles and lifetime of service to God, Saint Patrick was officially named to sainthood, and the day of his death, March 17, was designated to be Saint Patrick’s Day.  There are many more stories recorded that attribute miracles to Saint Patrick. 

Additional source:

Christian.com Catholic Online, http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=89 (accessed Mar 2011)

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TRADITIONS

Saint Patrick’s Day is All Green


Shamrocks, Beer, and Parades

For many people, celebrating a holiday like Saint Patrick’s Day is all green – shamrocks, beer, and parades.  It is the one day of the year when anyone can claim to be Irish and simply participate by wearing green, drinking green beer, and marching in a parade.  Saint Patrick’s Day, traditionally celebrated every March 17th, is a day for fun and relaxation, meeting up with friends at the local pub, and talking about the good old days.  So, just when did this happy holiday begin, and how did it change from a religious holiday into a partying free-for-all for everyone? 

Saint Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland

Somewhat tragic beginnings for this saint involved being kidnapped at age 16 by some Irish raiders, in the early 4th century.   Held as a slave in Ireland, he received a “word” from God to escape and return to Britain, which he did.  Upon his return, he joined the Church to study for the priesthood.  As a bishop, he was sent to Ireland to bring Christianity to the Irish.  One method he allegedly used in teaching was to represent the Trinity with a three-leafed shamrock.  It was a perfect way to convey the concept of a “three-in-one” trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  His fame endured following his death on March 17, 461, and he remains the patron saint of Ireland for leading the Irish to Christianity.

Wearing of the Green

The symbolic traditional wearing of green clothing originated with the 1798 Rebellion, during which time Irish army soldiers wore green uniforms to gain attention on March 17th.  Today, a symbolic green shamrock or facsimile pin, brooch, hat or tie achieves the same effect.  It is so common, that if you see someone wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day, you assume that either they are Irish, or want to be Irish.   

St. Patrick’s Day Festivals

Back in the ninth and tenth centuries, people celebrated Saint Patrick’s feast day.  As the man became better known as the patron of Ireland, this feast day was added to the Catholic Church calendar.  It was designated as a holy day of obligation that was observed by Irish Roman Catholics.  It was set for March 17th, and normally is celebrated on that actual day.  In some years, however, there is a church conflict with Holy Week.  Certain years when March 17th occurs during Holy Week, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on another nearby date. The first official “Saint Patrick’s Day” in Ireland became a holiday in 1903.

Modern Saint Patrick’s Day

To the Irish government in the mid-1990s, Saint Patrick’s Day seemed to be an ideal opportunity to bring attention to Ireland and all things Irish.   This began on March 17, 1996 and became ultimately a five day festival with almost a million visitors enjoying concerts, outdoor theatre, festivities and fireworks.  The later emphasis of this festival is for including everyone under the Irish umbrella of fun, rather than celebrating it as only an Irish or religious denomination festival.

St. Patrick’s Day Parades

Boston was the location of the first Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, when the local Irish Society organized and held their parade on March 18, 1737.  It was not until 1931 that a Saint Patrick’s Day Parade was set up in Dublin, Ireland.  New York followed suit after Boston with their parade in 1762, featuring Irish soldiers that were in the British Army.  Unfortunately, these early parades were more protest than celebration, because the hard working Irish immigrants were greatly mistreated and discriminated against back then.

This unfair treatment came to the attention of General George Washington, in 1780, who gave his Irish troops in the Continental Army a March 17 holiday so they could stand in solidarity with other Irishmen to protest their fight for independence.  This event was later given the title of “The St. Patrick’s Day Encampment of 1780.”

Shamrocks, Green Beer, and Leprechauns

Green has become the symbolic color of St. Patrick’s Day.  Wearing green shamrocks, green clothing, green ties and drinking green beer or Irish whiskey are very popular parts of the celebration on this festive day.  Some cities, like Chicago, even add green dye to their rivers for the day.  Lucky Leprechauns are another symbol associated with being Irish, especially on St. Patrick’s Day.  Find one of these little people, and you are destined to receive gold, a lucky charm indeed!  The Irish take pride in their Celtic and Viking ancestry, and are known as lucky people and great fighters, hence the phrase, “Luck of the Irish.”

Saint Patrick’s Day is All Green

This happy holiday is celebrated not only in Ireland, but in many other countries, including widespread celebrations across the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina.  Of course, as a religious holiday, many attend special services or a St. Patrick’s Day mass.  Then, it’s on to the party, because everything on Saint Patrick’s Day is all Green - shamrocks, beer and parades.

Saint Patrick’s Day is all green – shamrocks, beer, and parades.  It is the one day of the year when anyone can claim to be Irish and simply participate.


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