Wearing of the Green

Every March 17th, we eat corn beef and cabbage, we dye  the Chicago River green, we even dye our beer green…for one day we are Irish. St. Patricks Day! We have all heard of St. Patrick and the legend of him driving the snakes out of Ireland, but who was he? St. Patrick (Patricus in Latin), 387-493, was Roman-British and Christian missionary and most widely known patron saint of Ireland. When Patrick was 14, he was captured from Britain by Irish raiders and taken into slavery in Ireland, were he lived for 6 years before escaping and returning home. After he entered the Church, he returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop. In his writings, he wrote that he baptized thousands of people and ordained many priest. The road wasn’t always easy; he faced hostilities as a foreigner and was once beaten, robbed and nearly executed!

So did he drive the snakes out of Ireland? Evidence suggests that Ireland didn’t have snakes, so many think that “snakes” referred to the Druids of that time or it could have referred to beliefs such as Pelagianism, symbolized as serpents. Legend also credits him with teaching the Irish the concept of the Trinity by showing them the Shamrock, a 3 leaf clover. Though, there are no snakes in Ireland. Mmmm??

March 17th is believed to be the day he died and is celebrated as his feast day in the Catholic Church.  He is also venerated by the Orthodox Church with icons dedicated to him.  St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday in Ireland.  His day is celebrated more and more by people of other ethnicities such as Argentina!  The saying  “wearing of the green” means to wear a shamrock on ones clothing, which eventually became green clothing (and green beer???).

-Christine J.

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