Monday, March 17, 2014

Ireland and St. Patrick

I was privileged to have visited Ireland a few years ago.  It's a country that I have always wanted to see... could my maiden name of O'Leary have anything to do with that??  I will be sharing with you some of the sights of Ireland along with historical reference in this ancient land.

Today, being St. Patrick's Day, I'd like to devote this post to this honorable saint who has remained a popular and well-known figure throughout the centuries in many countries.  The photo below is a cathedral built in his name in Dublin.  It is here that St. Patrick was said to have baptized converts to Christianity in the 5th century.  A church as been built on this site ever since.  The present one was constructed in 1225 but has been enlarged and restored many times.   St. Patrick's Cathedral, which was previously Roman Catholic, is now the Anglican Church of Ireland, following the English Reformation in 1537.

St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland
Sanctuary inside St. Patrick's Cathedral
Legends abound about Patrick; but truth is best served by our seeing two solid qualities in him:  He was humble and courageous.  The determination to accept suffering and success with equal indifference guided the life of God's instrument for winning most of Ireland for Christ.
Old Statue of St. Patrick in Cathedral
Duiske Abbey statue of St. Patrick
- Varied dates are given for his birth and date, but it is believed that he was born around 387AD and died in 461AD.
- Enslaved as a young teen by pagans and Druids, he turned to God in captivity.  Escaping at age 20, he returned to his family and began studying for the priesthood.
- He preached throughout Ireland converting many for 40 years.
-  St. Patrick is often shown with a shamrock.  The shamrock is a three leafed clover and is a world-renowned symbol of Ireland.  The Shamrock was used by Saint Patrick to explain the Holy Trinity to the pre-Christian Irish.
- In a relatively short time, the island had experienced deeply the Christian spirit, and was prepared to send out missionaries whose efforts were greatly responsible for Christianizing Europe.
- One of the few certainly authentic writings is his "Confessio", above all an act of homage to God for having called Patrick, unworthy sinner, to the apostolate.

 The Lorica or St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer
Here is a little background on the word Lorica  which means breastplate... (1) In medieval times, it was a protective shield, a piece of armor that was placed over the chest while in battle for protection.  (2) A vestment worn in ancient times by a Jewish high priest and set with 12 gems bearing the names of the tribes of Israel.

According to tradition, St. Patrick wrote a prayer in 433 AD for divine protection before successfully converting the Irish King Leoghaire and his subjects from Paganism to Christianity.  This prayer has become known as The Lorica, or St. Patrick's Breastplate Prayer.  This prayer invokes God's protection on a journey, either literal or the metaphorical "journey of life".  The following is just a part of this beautiful prayer....
"Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation."

St. Patrick's day is celebrated throughout the world each year on March 17th and it is tradition that people wear a shamrock on their clothing and dress in green to honor St. Patrick and celebrate being Irish.
Country scene overlooking city of Dublin, Ireland
 A view of the Connemara region in western Ireland
The above photos are just a few of this picturesque country, unique in history and turbulent in times, which has had heroes and villains throughout the centuries.  The Irish spirit is indomitable, capturing the world through their music, their humor and their faith.... yes! Even to St. Patrick who is recognized and renown beyond the borders of Ireland. 

From time to time, I will be sharing about places that I visited while traveling in Ireland along with history and photos.  Scotland is another country that I was able to see... beautiful, ancient and raw in the human turmoil of personal drama.  Each country has examples of triumphs and tragedies that are shown in narrative from generation to generation.  I will take you there on virtual trips through my blog in future posts.

Let's meet again at the Turn-Up Patch on Monday, March 31.  Until then, here is a great and very short Irish proverb with a lot of truth in it....  "Time is a great story teller."

1 comment:

  1. I missed reading this blog during St. Patrick's Day....where did that time go? I remember your trip and the
    beautiful slide presentation you gave at the Second Saturday Gathering. You made it very real to us.
    I look forward to your future presentations on this unique land.