St. Patrick's Day 101

Bianca Rae, KESQ News Channel 3 & CBS Local 2 Reporter, brae@kesq.com
POSTED: 01:22 PM PDT Mar 17, 2013    UPDATED: 01:28 PM PDT Mar 17, 2013 
PALM DESERT, Calif. -

St. Patrick's mission in Ireland lasted for over 20 years. He died on March 17, AD 461. That day has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day ever since. The day's spirit is to celebrate the universal baptism of Ireland. Though originally a Catholic holy day, St. Patrick's Day has evolved into more of a secular holiday, or, rather, 'be an Irish Day '. The Catholic feast day for this most loved of Irish saints has become a holiday in celebration of the Irish and Irish culture.

Here's a bit of trivia for you! The meaning behind green and the three-leaf clover:

Originally, the color associated with Saint Patrick was blue. Over the years, the color green and its association with Saint Patrick's Day grew. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St .Patrick's Day as early as the 17th century. Saint Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish, and the ubiquitous wearing and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs has become a feature of the day. In the 1798 rebellion, to make a political statement, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on March 17th in hopes of catching public attention. The phrase "the wearing of the green", meaning to wear a shamrock on one's clothing, derives from a song of the same name.

Here's some more history for you!

St. Patrick is known as the patron saint of Ireland. Interestingly, he was not a born Irish, but he has become an integral part of the Irish heritage, mostly through his service across Ireland of the 5th century.

Patrick was born in the later half of the 4th century AD. There are differing views about the exact year and place of his birth. According to one school of opinion, he was born about 390 AD., while the other school says it is about 373 AD. Again, his birth place is said to be in either Scotland or Roman England. His real name was probably Maewyn Succat. Though Patricius was his Romanicized name, he later came to be familiar as Patrick.

Patrick was the son of Calpurnius, a Roman-British army officer. He was growing up as naturally as other kids in Britain. However, one day a band of pirates landed in south Wales and kidnapped this boy along with many others. Then they sold him into slavery in Ireland. The was there for 6 years, mostly imprisoned. This was when changes came to him. He dreamed of having seen God. Legend says, he was then dictated by God to escape with a getaway ship.

Finally, he did escape and went to Britain - and then to France! There he joined a monastery and studied under St. Germain, the bishop of Auxerre. He spent around 12 years in training. When he became a bishop, he dreamed that the Irish were calling him back to Ireland to tell them about God.

So he set out for Ireland with the Pope's blessings. There he converted the Gaelic Irish, who were then mostly Pagans, to Christianity. He was confident in the Lord; he journeyed far and wide, baptizing and confirming with untiring zeal. In a diplomatic fashion, he brought gifts to a kinglet here and a lawgiver there, but accepted none from any.

Indeed, Patrick was quite successful at winning converts. Through active preaching, he made important converts even among the royal families. This fact upset the Celtic Druids. Patrick was arrested several times,but escaped each time. For 20 years he had traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid him in his conversion. He developed a native clergy, fostered the growth of monasticism, established dioceses, and held church councils.

By the end of the 7th century, Patrick had become a legendary figure, and the legends have continued to grow since then. There are many legends associated with St Patrick. It is said that he used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the Trinity; which refers to the combination of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Hence its strong association with his day and name Legend also has that, Saint Patrick had put the curse of God on venomous snakes in Ireland. And he drove all the snakes into the sea where they drowned.

True, these are mostly legends. But, after some 1500 years, these legends have been inseparably combined with the facts. Together they have helped us know much about the Saint and the spirit behind celebration of the day.

Now go quiz your friends!