A MESSAGE FROM THE BANNER BARON
Good writers never let truth stand in the way of a good story, as evidenced by Napoleon Bonaparte’s statement “History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.” Here are a few details “that people have decided to agree upon” about St. Patrick of Ireland because this religious and cultural holiday is right around the corner and you should order your St. Patrick’s Day signs now. Here goes. No one will dispute that St. Patrick is considered the patron Saint of Ireland for his successful efforts to bring Christianity there in the 5th century. Beyond that, the details get a little cloudy.
According to legend, St. Patrick used a three-leafed clover-the shamrock, sacred to the Druids-to explain the Holy Trinity to his new converts. Irish lore tells us St. Patrick “banished” the snakes from Ireland by driving them into the sea. Now, it is true that there are no snakes in the wilds of Ireland today, but it is more likely that there never were any since the Emerald Isle is exactly that. An island. And snakes are not known for their aquatic abilities. Some scholars suggest that there were actually two “Patricks”, the second being Palladius, also a 5th century missionary sent to Ireland.
And the preponderance of celebratory festivities on March 17th? Those stem from the church’s lifting of Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking on that day. Fact, fiction, legend, or lore, it all makes for a great tale and that’s all I intended today. By the way, every word I write here each week is true. Even the parts I make up.
The Banner Baron