This Friday is, of course, St. Patrick's Day. Many of you may be fleeing Savannah as i type this just to get away from the madness and mayhem that will descend upon our city tomorrow. I thought it might be helpful to share some of what we actually know about St. Patrick and possibly correct some of what we think we know.
Patrick was born around 386 and died in either 460 or 461. He was not Irish but was born to Roman citizens in what is now England. At age 16, poor Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken into slavery in Ireland. He later escaped, made his way back to England and lived for a time in a monastery there. He was later ordained and chose to return to Ireland to carry the Gospel back to those who had held him captive all those years. He did not, as is so often claimed, drive out all the snakes from Ireland; there is no evidence that snakes ever lived there before or after Patrick's time.
Did he use the shamrock - with three leaves, not four - to teach the Irish about the Holy Trinity? We don't know for certain, but there is also no reason not to follow that particular bit of the tradition surround Patrick, so i for one will keep believing that he did. And while Patrick (along with his feast day) is often associated with the color green, the traditional color for him is blue. He is most often depicted wearing blue vestments.
We have a hymn in our hymnal, #37o, usually referred to as St. Patrick's Breastplate, based off the prayer attributed to Patrick; it is one of the most popular prayers in Christianity.