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Who was St. Patrick and why is his day celebrated on March 17?

Chris Lawrence

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  • St. Patrick was born in Scotland, his name was Maewyn and he was never canonized
  • He used a clover to explain Christianity and the Holy Trinity
  • The holiday was spread by Irish immigrants in the US
The feast of St. Patrick was chosen to extol the culture and values ​​of Ireland. Image: Reuters

St. Patrick's Day is a national holiday in the Republic of Ireland, since this saint is the patron of the country. A holiday celebrated on March 17, is of Catholic origin and has a special meaning for the people of Éire and the Celtic culture. But who was it and why is St. Patrick celebrated this day?

The first thing to know is that St. Patrick is neither holy, nor was his name Patrick, nor was he originally from Ireland. This man, who has never been officially canonized by the church, was called Maewyn Succat, was born in 385 in what is now Scotland and was the son of a cleric and Roman officer. Throughout his life, he himself was reflecting the events that occurred in a series of writings and thanks to this he can be known for everything that happened until he became the figure venerated by the Irish.

Maewyn's history with the country of which he would be patron is born at age 16, at which time he was kidnapped by Celtic pirates who moved him from Scotland to the northwest coast of Ireland. At that time, the country was divided into independent tribes and there they sold him as a slave to a Druid. At the service of this teacher, the young man dedicated himself to caring for sheep and began to experience faith in God that would lead him to a new future.

After six years of slavery, one night the young man dreamed that God revealed to him by showing the ship in which he had to flee the island. Maewyn walked about 300 kilometers along the Irish coast and when he finally found the ship that was supposed to move him, the captain of the latter refused to embark him given the shortage of money of the boy. It was his pleas that would convince the crew chief, which finally led him to French Brittany.

Finally free, the young man delved into the Catholic faith and, first in Canes and then in Auxerre, where he was consecrated bishop and adopted the name of Patrick (meaning father of all citizens), he was preaching and evangelizing different people. From France he would undertake a trip to Rome in which he would meet Pope Celestine I, who would entrust him with the function of being a missionary in Ireland.

Returning to the Emerald Island (Ireland is known for the number of green areas), Patrick began to preach the gospel by the various tribes in order to turn the heathen into Christians. It was in Down County where he spent much of this stage and in a barn, nowadays converted into a church in his honor, he began celebrating his masses. From there his word spread throughout the island while he founded new churches and brought together Catholic congregations.

Thanks to all these actions, St. Patrick became the first person who preached Christianity for Ireland, a pagan land at the time and that today is the third country with more Catholics in the West, behind Italy and Spain.

In addition, for his actions, he is credited with a symbol that has ended up linked to Irish culture. This is the three-leaf clover, an object that St. Patrick used to explain the Holy Trinity by assigning to each leaf one of the three divine personalities (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), something that was simple for the learning of the Irish. This plant is the one that symbolizes the saint and which has ended up becoming the country's heritage along with the color green.

St. Patrick died on March 17, 461 in Downpatrick (today in Northern Ireland) and there the Down Cathedral was built where his grave is located but not his relics, it is unknown where he was buried. It was this date of his death the one chosen in 1903 by the Irish nationalist leader, James O'Mara, to commemorate a public holiday in the country that would eventually become the massive National Day of the Republic of Ireland that is currently.

Parades and parties of the world

But St. Patrick's Day is not originally from the country that welcomed the saint, but from the United States, where immigrants began celebrating it in the 18th century to keep Ireland's roots alive. This population was increasing from the famine that affected Europe in the nineteenth century and today reaches 40 million Americans with Irish ancestors.

Therefore, the American country has become the great exponent of Celtic culture and some of its cities have a society influenced by Ireland. In Boston there is a basketball team dedicated to the culture of the Emerald Island (Boston Celtics), in Chicago the river turns green when it approaches March 17 and in New York, a non-Irish city with more Irish people, the most famous and largest parade in the world for St. Patrick's Day. Even the city cathedral is dedicated to Saint Patrick.

As for Ireland, the first ride that took place on this day was in Dublin in 1931. However, it would not be until 1990, amid tensions between the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, when it would host the crowd of people with whom the event is known in the 21st century. The government of the country saw on this date the perfect opportunity to promote nationalist symbols, traditional culture and the exaltation of Irish roots in the figure of St. Patrick.

In addition, this March 17 monuments from around the world commemorate the saint's holiday. Places like the One World Trade Center and the Empire State Building in New York, the London Eye in London, the Sydney Opera House, the Colosseum in Rome, the Great Wall of China, the Tower of Pisa or the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro they light up emerald green for the National Day of the Republic of Ireland.

Spain is also a participant in the #OlaVerde from different parts of the country as it has been celebrating for other years. In Madrid the City Hall, the Puerta de Alcalá and the Cibeles Fountain are illuminated, in A Coruña, the Celtic city par excellence of Spain, the Tower of Hercules, in Seville the Glorieta de Don Juan de Austria and in Tenerife the Plaza de España. They debut in this play of lights: Barcelona, ​​Santander, Malaga, Zaragoza, Murcia, Cáceres, Valladolid and Tarragona.

Chris writes Football and General Sports News on Sportsfinding. He is the newest member in our team, and has a lot of new ideas which he discusses with us to take this portal to new heights. He is a sports maniac, and thus, writing about various sports. He is fond of tattoos.

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