Music - Danny Boy
The Legend of Saint Patrick
True history and legend are intertwined when it comes to St. Patrick.
It is known that he was born in Banwen, Wales and was kidnapped and sold in Ireland as a slave.
He became fluent in the Irish language before making his escape to the continent.
Eventually he was ordained as a deacon, then priest and finally as a bishop. Pope Celestine then sent
him back to Ireland to preach the gospel.
Evidently he was a great traveller, especially in Celtic countries, as innumerable places in Brittany,
Cornwall, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are named after him.
Here it is where actual history and legend become difficult to seperate.
Patrick is most known the world over for having driven the snakes from Ireland.
Different tales tell of his standing upon a hill, using a wooden staff to drive the serpents into the sea,
banishing them forever from the shores of Ireland.
While it is true there are no snakes in Ireland, chances are that there never have been since the time the island
was seperated from the rest of the continent at the end of the ice age.
As in many old pagan religions serpent symbols were common, and possibly even worshipped.
Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice.
While not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, it was Patrick who encountered the Druids at Tara and
abolished their pagan rights.
He converted the warrior chiefs and princes, baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the
Holy Wells which still bear that name.
. The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Galstonbury Abbey.
FROM THE BREASTPLATE OF SAINT PATRICK
Christ be with me, Christ be within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me
Christ in mouth of friend or stranger.
The Legend of the Shamrock
The Shamrock, at one time called the "Seamroy", symbolises the cross and blessed trinity.
Before the Christian era it was a sacred plant of the Druids of Ireland because its leaves
formed a triad.
The well known legend of the Shamrock connects it definitely to St. Patrick and his teaching.
Preaching in the open air on the doctrine of the trinity, he is said to have illustrated the existence
of the Three in One by plucking a shamrock from the grass growing at his feet and showing
it to his congregation.
The legend of the shamrock is also connected with that of the banishment of the serpent
tribe from Ireland by a tradition that snakes are never seen on trefoil and that
it is a remedy against the stings of snakes and scorpions.
The trefoil in Arabia is called shamrakh and was sacred in Iran as an emblem of
the Persian triads.
The trefoil, as noted above, being a sacred plant among the Druids, and three being a mystical
number in the Celtic religion as well as all others, it is probable that St. Patrick must
have been aware of the significance of his illustration.
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