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St. Patrick's Day - An Irishman's Perspective
Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013
By: David Retz (Expired article)Solvang, CA -
Fr. Gerald Barron, O.F.M.Cap., is pastor of Old Mission Santa Ines, and grew up in Dublin, Ireland. He worked for the Guinness company (as did his father before him), and subsequently became a Catholic priest. He reflects here on St. Patrick's Day from an Irishman's perspective.
St. Patrick's Day is a National Holiday in the Republic of Ireland, and also a holy day of obligation to attend church for Catholics there. Celebrations include a massive parade, military displays, and musical performances which span a period of several days. (Note: See Irish Festival.).
Why is St. Patrick so highly regarded in Ireland and around the world? He, like Martin Luther King in the USA, can be said to have single-handedly impacted an entire country. In around 410 he was kidnapped from Roman-occupied Britain at the age of 16 and taken as a slave to Ireland - then a pagan country ruled by the Druids. He prayed to be taken back to his homeland and he managed to escape, walk 200 miles to a nearby port, and travel on a ship back to Britain. Legend has it he sang the legendary Lorica or St. Patrick's Breastplate as they set sail back to Britain.
After reuniting with his family, he became a priest and a bishop. Pope Celestine sent him back to Ireland as a missionary. He landed in Ireland around Holy week and on the Easter vigil, lit the "new fire" on the Hill of Slane - contrary to the rules of the Druids in lighting bonfires that compete with Druid ceremonies. Tradition holds that he converted a Druid King Loiguire to Christianity, and this was the onset of conversion of the region. Presumably, St. Patrick used a three-leaved shamrock to explain the Trinity to the Druid King.
Is "corned beef and cabbage" the meal of choice on this famous holiday? "Absolutely not! (who could afford corned beef?) - its boiled bacon and cabbage for dinner. Absolutely delicious - but only in Ireland."
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