Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
A Top of the Mornin’ to Ya!
Did you know that the world’s most famous Irishman, St. Patrick, was not Irish at all? Indeed, he was a Welshman. He was born under the name of Maewyn Succat, circa 400 AD and could have been considered a bit of a 5th Century trust-fund kid, as he came from a wealthy family. This made him especially appealing to Irish pirates, who kidnapped him when he was 16 years old and took him to the Emerald Isle to work as a slave. After 6 years laboring as a shepherd he managed to escape and return home. He received a calling to join the priesthood in his dreams when he returned home. He then furthers his education in Gaul, which is known as France today. Upon finishing his studies, he asked to be sent to Ireland, to spread Christianity, because he never forgot the Irish people. (Even though they enslaved him, call it a bit o’ the ole Stockholm syndrome).
So, under the name Patricius, or Patrick, he spread the concepts of Christianity using symbolism indigenous to the Irish land. For example, one day as he was preaching on the hill, attempting to explain the Holy Trinity, he plucked a shamrock from the earth, and held it up as an example; the three leaves representing the Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost respectively. Three separate leaves, yet one stem.
Another legend is that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, and yet, there were no snakes in Ireland, so, it wasn’t such a miracle after all. Though a Druid priest told me (and I say, ‘tis no blarney) that the snakes represented Paganism, and so he drove the paganism out. And yet, the Irish culture today still honors the old Earth-based religions and a love of nature along with Christianity, creating a unique blend of Faith which is embodied in the beautiful understanding of love and friendship known as “Anam Cara.”
So, whether it’s searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a Leprechaun you’ve been chasing, or just a bit of good old Irish music you’re listening to, we hope you join the California Philharmonic in celebrating this joyous holiday!
Erin Go Bragh!