Saint Patrick's Day was one of those times that we love to write about. It was wall to wall sunshine with the thermometer hovering around the 90 mark in Monday. Since I had been home-bound for the previous weekend my caregiver, Patty, thought it might be a good idea to take a ride out in the backcountry and enjoy the bounty that had been sent down to us from above. We like to think that St. Paddy himself had something to do with it.
The literature has quite a bit to say about St. Patrick who is the patron saint of Ireland. He was born in what is now Dumbarton in the year of 373. His father was Calpurnius, a deacon and Roman official.
As a boy Patrick was captured and sold as a slave in Ireland that was, in those days, a heathen nation. He was assigned to a master who gave him various tasks, most of them degrading. He escaped and eventually made his way back to Britain. Prior to this he had studied under St. Martin. There he had a supernatural call to preach to the heathen of Ireland. He was eventually consecrated and made his way back to that land. He at first met with strong opposition, but he persevered. He converted first the chiefs and people of some means. He later concentrated on the rest of Ireland.
He built and established many churches and that included the cathedral of Armagh. He is said to have died in Armagh and to have been buried at either at Down or Saul. One tradition, however, gives Glastonbury as the place of his death and the burial site as Downpatrick Cathedral. As is the case with many persons of that age, dates and places are rather sketchy.
St. Patrick left his name in various places in both Ireland and Britain and many legends exist of his miraculous powers that included such acts as raising the dead and having the blind see once more. Perhaps the most noted tradition is that he cleared Ireland of its vermin. In commemoration of this St. Patrick is often shown banishing the serpents from the land. He is shown with a shamrock leaf, in allusion to the tradition that when explaining the Trinity to the heathen priests on the hill of Tara he used this as a symbol.
And now, here it is, more than 1,600 years later and his birthday is still observed and lauded all over. Parades and other civic functions are staged in many of the nation’s major cities. In addition to that parties of all types are the norm in many households and other establishments, all lauding the green and the aforementioned shamrock.
Not too many years ago we made that family once-in-a-lifetime journey to New York. I had been there before but had missed many of the highlights due to lack of time. This time we had scheduled them duly, trying to include those landmarks that are favorites of the sight-seeing public. This included Times Square, the Algonquin Hotel, “Phantom of the Opera” and other such attractions.
The next day was Sunday and it was reserved for the highlight, a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We stood across the street from the Cathedral and looked with awe at this edifice that had been admired for many generations before us.
I think St. Patrick would have been pleased.