Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Saint Patrick - Truth Or Fiction?

Christal Cooper – 965 Words

Truth Or Legend Of The Man St. Patrick

Today on Saturday March 17, 2018 all of North America, Europe, Australia, Russia, Singapore, and Japan are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.  The first ever celebration of St. Patrick’s Day was in 1737 in Boston, Massachusetts, when the majority of the population consisted of Irish Immigrants.

        St. Patrick was born Maewyn Succat to Roman parents who resided in Banna Venta Berniae, Cumbria, England a.ka Ravenglass and/or Glannaventa.  It is not certain of the month or year but some believe he was born on December 16 in 373, 385, or 387 A.D.

Maewyn’s parents were wealthy and educated people.  His father, Calpornius Succat was a deacon in the church, overseeing money issues, particularly for tax incentive reasons.  His grandfather Politus was a priest. 

       Maewyn was kidnapped by Irish raiders/pirates when he was sixteen years old.  Experts are not sure exactly how he was kidnapped.  Some stories state that the raiders/pirates busted into the Succat home, took Maewyn, and sold him into slavery in Ireland.  The question of what happened to Maewyn’s parents is not even addressed.

       It is certain he was in captivity for six years, and that he worked as a shepherd in County Mayo in Ireland.  Some describe his slave-duty as that of a herdsman in the Irish slopes of Slemish and Croaghpatrick.  It is unknown if Maewyn was treated well or severely abused.

Another conflict about Maewyn:  was he a devout Christian before he was kidnapped or did he have his conversion during captivity?  Once again there are two teams who disagree.  One believes Maewyn was a devout Christian before he was kidnapped and that his faith is what made him endure those six years.  Others believe that he was not a Christian, or at least did not take it seriously, until during his captivity, when he had nothing else to turn to but God.

There are two documents, letters, written by Maewyn.  In the first letter, The Letter Of Declaration, he writes of his own experiences, particularly visions sent from God.

The first vision was a voice telling him that he needed to escape and go home.  Maewyn responded to these voices by walking nearly 200 miles from County Mayo across the Irish coast, boarded a ship, and returned home to his parents, in Britain.

While in Britain, Maewyn experienced the second vision in which another Saint, Victoricus spoke to him. 

“I saw a man and heard a voice coming, as if it were from Ireland.  His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them.  I read the heading:  “The voice of the Irish. As I began the letter I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclu, which is beside the Western Sea and they cried out as with one voice:  “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.”

       For the next 10 to 15 years Maewyn wandered the European countryside, visiting numerous monasteries, learning from great devout Christian men.

       Maewyn became an ordained bishop, perhaps explaining his new name of St. Patrick.  Becoming a bishop was not a bed of roses for St. Patrick.  According to his own words, he was beaten, robbed, and put in chains awaiting execution.  It is not known what he was he found guilty of.

       There was a time where he was officially accused of mishandling financial matters.  It is not clear on the specifics of the allegations.  One clue could be that St Patrick refused money and other gifts from prestigious people of Ireland, where as before, previous bishops accepted these gifts.

       Most of St. Patrick’s days as a bishop were rewarding and fruitful and well received.   The majority of Ireland did not practice Christianity but pagan religions of mother earth and other gods.   St. Patrick decided not to replace their mother religion’s symbols with his own Christian ones; and instead, incorporated the nature-based-religion symbols into his sermons of Christianity. 

An example of this is that he included the pagan symbol the sun into the Christian symbol the cross – thus the Celtic cross was born.  

The believers of these pagan religions also would start huge fires to honor their pagan gods.  St Patrick incorporated the fires into the Easter celebrations.  The reason for this is that St. Patrick wanted his new converts to think of the Christian symbols as natural and not totally foreign.

Two of the greatest legends about St. Patrick is that he used a shamrock to teach his new converts the Trinity.   The legend states that he picked a shamrock, three-leaf clover, from a plant in the ground, explaining to his congregation that each of the three leaves represented the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

It is not sure what specific three-leaf clover, shamrock this was.  Some believe it was of the clover family, the small hop clover, the European Wood Sorrel, the White Clover, or the Black Medic.  This story could very well be true, but this story was first told 1000 years after St. Patrick’s death.

The second legend is that St Patrick, holding his wooden staff and standing on a hilltop, cast all of the snakes out of Ireland.  It is true that there are no snakes in Ireland, but not due to St Patrick’s holy powers; for snakes do not and have never existed in Ireland, nor New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, and Antarctica.  The reason being that the geography is not habitable to snakes.   More than likely this was not literal and instead a way to describe how the pagans abandoned one of their pagan symbols, the snake, for Christianity, and Christianity triumphed.

He ministered to the Irish for 30 years, retiring to Saul, where he lived the remainder of his life until his death on March 17 of 462 or 493 A.D, which places his death between ages 75 to 120.

Photograph Description and Copyright Information

Photo 1A
Painting of St. Patrick
Unknown attribution
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 2C
Union Army Irish Brigade holds a steeplechase race in honor of St. Patrick
Photo taken March 17, 1863
Photo attributed to Edwin Forbs (1839 – 1895)
Library of Congress
Public Domain

Photo 3A
New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1871.  A float featuring a bust of Daniel O’Connell passes through Union Square
Library of Congress
Public Domain

Photo 4B
Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in New York’s Fifth Avenue in 1909
Library of Congress
Public Domain

Photo 5S
This is believed to be the birthplace of St. Patrick
WallsCastle, Ravenglass
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 6GG
Drawing of St. Patrick
Fair Use under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 7T
Art piece depicting St Patrick’s kidnapping by Irish pirates.
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 8N
Slemish, County Antrim

Photo 9U
Stained glass window depiction of Saint Patrick’s conversion while enslaved.
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 10 V
First writings of St. Patrick to be printed.
Public Domain

Photo 11W
Painting depicting Saint Patrick hearing the voice of God telling him to escape.
Attribution unknown
Public Domain

Photo 12X
Catacomb of Saint Victoricus.
Public Domain

Photo 13J
Traditional Saint Patrick’s Day badges from the early 20th Century
Located at the Museum of County Life In Country

Photo 14H
Strained Glass art of St. Patrick
Saint Benin’s Church in Kilbennun, County Galway, Ireland
Photograph of art attributed to Andreas F Borchert
Public Domain

Photo 15K
Saint Patrick stained glass window from Cathedral of Christ the Light

Photo 16P
Painting of St. Patrick
Attribution Unknown
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 17R
Painting of St. Patrick
Attribution Unknown
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 18Y
A Christian high cross with a Celtic cross design located at Monasterboice in Ireland

Photo 19Z
Image depicting St. Patrick setting fires for the Easter celebration
Public Domain

Photo 20I

Photo 21AA
Stained glass image of St Patrick surrounded by Shamrocks
Public Domain

Photo 22BB
Painting of St. Patrick with a banished snake.
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 23CC
Image of Saint Patrick on his deathbed
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 24OO
Statue of St Patrick in Saul, the place St. Patrick died.

Photo 25EE
Saint Patrick’s gravesite
Reputed site of burial of Saint Patrick, in churchyard of cathedral in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland
Photo taken on August 31, 2006
Photo attributed to Man Vya
Public Domain

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