On St. Patrick’s Day, the world goes green. But who inspired this global celebration – was he a man, a true saint or a glorious Irish myth?
Saint Patrick isn’t Irish. A British teenager kidnapped by seagoing raiders, he is enslaved on a Northern Irish farm for seven long years. At first, he doesn’t believe in God, but when a heavenly voice speaks to him and he’s able to escape his imprisonment, he takes up the Church’s cause with a true convert’s enthusiasm.
One night in a dream he hears other voices, the pagans he’d lived among in Ireland, imploring him to return to them with his new-found faith. Defying his conservative Church overseers, he sets his own mission; one he fervently believes has been given to him by God. To convert Ireland’s various heathen tribes to Christianity, Patrick becomes a wandering evangelist convinced his crusade at this distant edge of the known world will ultimately bring about the Second Coming of Christ.
Two centuries after his death, Patrick’s missionary zeal and his many accomplishments become the inspiration for colourful Irish legend. Imaginative monks from Armagh, the spiritual centre of the island, seek a way to uniteIreland’s disparate peoples under one saintly banner. They make Patrick the hero of their stories. Their writings turn Patrick’s sacred journey into a popular, potent mix of folklore and fantasy. And it works – in ways they could never have foreseen.
Featuring shamrocks, snakes and supernatural battles with pagan kings, St. Patrick’s mythology grows, and accompanies the Irish diaspora as they travel across the globe. Today, ironically, this apocalyptic saint’s legacy, rather than heralding in Doomsday, has become a worldwide, life-affirming fusion of religious veneration and secular celebration – a living heritage of hope and renewal that continues to inspire March 17th festivities across the towns and cities of modern Ireland.