It’s coming before you know it, St. Patrick’s Day, March 17! You all know about St. Patrick, don’t you?Take a listen to this for a couple of minutes. Delightful song and delightful accompaniment, if I do say so myself. I have sung this one maybe 120 times in my life, and it always pleases. Christy Moore told us all about him with his pals in the song “Patrick’s Arrival.” No better song to sing on St.Patricks’ day in your favorite bar getting hammered up to the eyes!
That’s what St. Patrick has become to us, a good reason to go drink too much, fall down, whatever.
Except that’s not St. Patrick. The legend is a grand one, but like many of the lives of the saints, built on fantasies over a long period of time by people who created the man they wanted him to be. People don’t know much about him at all. He might have been born in Scotland, England or someplace in Wales. He called himself both a Roman and a Britain. He was confused, even in his own head in his own time.
How we got from this slim little record to shamrocks and little green men and rivers dyed green in Chicago and lots of other things, I just don’t know. except we had an abundance of Irish priests and missionaries in America, and they obviously did their work well. Somehow the real Patrick ended up in France where he was proclaimed a bishop and then decided to go back to Ireland to convert everyone to the one true faith. The church authorities of the day didn’t like that idea because he had no education to speak of. However he did it, he did it well. Some local kings protected him, giving him the chance to make lots of converts. Because Ireland was basically a damp pagan hellhole, he urged widows to remain chaste. Young women, he said, should devote their virginity to Christ (there’s that virginity thing again!)
He was pretty certain of his calling into this bleak place full of pagans. Snakes? I don’t think so. Too wet. Maybe frogs to chase into the bogs, but I don’t know about that, too.
I have found over time it’s best to stick to the legend in the song, where he drinks beer to abandon, preaches up a storm and presents lots of legends.
That’s at least a saint we can relate to.