Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Patrick's Day Lore- Kidnapped by Pirates!

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! I just wanted to share a little history behind the day with you. I thought this was pretty interesting! Excerpted from "The Apple Branch" by Alexei Kondratiev:

"There is no arguing that St. Patrick has become the preeminent Irish saint, to the point of eclipsing the achievements of all other Irish saints in history. Yet, this is a fairly recent development. Starting in the late seventh century, the Roman church, eager to reestablish it's hold over Irish Christian communities, began to strongly promote veneration of Patrick, who saw it as one of it's own, a bishop of Roman lineage representing Roman authority. Ironically, the historical Patrick who evangelized Ireland in the 5th century had not been highly thought of by his Roman superiors. A native of Cumbria, kidnapped by pirates and kept as a slave in Ireland, he eventually escaped to the Continent and pursued his ecclesiastical career in Gaul. When the fiery soldier-bishop Germanus of Auxerre was dispatched to Britain to deal with the Pelagian movement there, Patrick accompanied him as part of his entourage. Clearly he was thought to be lukewarm in his opposition to Pelagianism when Christians in Ireland requested that a bishop be sent to them, he was only the Church's second choice, despite his unique Irish experience, and was sent to Ireland only after the departure of his predecessor Palladius. He did not, as modern popular tradition suggests, singlehandedly bring Ireland to Christianity; he found many well-rooted Christian communities already there, and probably did not cover all of Ireland in his missionizing. Once the writers Muirchu and Tirechan had, by conflating the events recounted in Patrick's own "Confessio" with a variety of unrelated saint-legends, established the outline for the saint's official biography, the stage was set for the spectacular growth of his reputation throughout the Middle Ages. Paradoxically, however, despite his having been the chosen vehicle for Roman authority, Patrick developed into an idealized model of native Celtic spirituality- heroic, adventurous, and filled with faith- simply because he had absorbed the stories of so many other saints who had exhibited those traits. And because those saints had absorbed the roles of many local deities, aspects of the older pagan heritage also came to be associated with Patrick's persona- as when, echoing the Lord of the Harvest who subdues the Fomorian Dragon of the Land, he became, in some traditions, a dragon-slayer. This is certainly the origin of the bowdlerized modern story, which has him " driving the snakes out of Ireland" (the version according to which the "snakes" are really druids is, of course, a recent Neo-Pagan development)."

...and there you have it! If anyone wants to add anything or disagrees with any of this, please feel free to comment. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

P.S. Keep your eyes peeled...a contest is a-brewing!

Brooke (posting under Em's user name, because she is just the coolest person ever, and is sharing with me, because Blogger won't let me over!! :)


Lana said...

Oooooh, a contest. I'm waiting to see what it is...LOL!

Melanie said...

I ws going to asy exactly what lana said! I love contests!