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Saint Patrick, the apostle of Ireland

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St. Patrick, called the apostle of Ireland was perhaps the most famous of all Irish or Celtic saints. There is a plethora of histories and legends surrounding the most beloved saint. If records are correct, he was born at Bannaventa in Britain in the year 389. He was the son of a Decurion and a grandson of a priest. He was kidnapped by pirates at the age of six and taken to be sold as a slave in Ireland. After living and working as a slave for six years, he escaped and fled Ireland.

When Patrick reached Gaul, he entered the monastery of Lerins. While at the monastery he study and about 416 was ordained a deacon. At the age of 45, Patrick was consecrated bishop. At that time, he decided to return to Ireland to preach the Christian faith to the people that once held him captive. Patrick founded a monastery at Armagh near an important pagan royal settlement. He ordained over 300 bishops during this time. Legion has it that in one day, he baptized seven Celtic kings into the Christian faith.

St. Patrick died in the 493 and is honored each year on March 17. His holy plant is the shamrock; whose three leaves he used to symbolized the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

The holy staff of St. Patrick

St. Patrick possessed a holy staff called Bachall Iesu or “The Staff of Jesus”. According to Celtic legion, Jesus gave the staff to Patrick. With the power of this staff, St. Patrick expelled all the serpents from Ireland and to this day there are no snakes on the Island of Ireland. Some see this as a symbol of St. Patrick abolishing other religions and the specially the Druids from Ireland. The saint is reputed to have obtained even great gifts from Jesus, wringing special concessions from God. He prayed to God that the Irish people should be saved, even if their repentance was on the deathbed. Secondly, that unbelievers might never overcome him and thirdly, that no Irish person should be left alive to suffer the reign of the Antichrist. So we are told he received the guarantee that Ireland would sink beneath the waves, like Atlantis seven years before the Day of Doom.

Patrick’s Law

In the time of the Irish high king a folk moot was convened at Tara to discuss religion. At that time the body of Irish law as known as Senchus Mor, “great Antiquity” was revised to take the new religion of Christianity into account. The high king and his followers remained pagan, but understood that the new religion must have a place in law. The revision was called Cain Patreuc “Patrick’s Law”. The law was made by a committee composed of three kings, three brehons or lawyers, and three Christian bishops. In the revision of this law, St. Patrick succeeded in replacing the Druids who would have participated in traditional law committees.

The Tripartite Life of Saint Patrick

This is a bilingual book containing the Life of Patrick. It is written partly in Irish and in Latin from the late 9th century. It is the earliest example of a saint's life written in the Irish language, and it was meant to be read in three parts over the three days of the saint's festival. St. Patrick’s Day was made and official feast day in the early 17 century. The day or in most cases an entire weekend commemorates St. Patrick and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish people all over the world.