There’s no need to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick

The statue of St. Patrick stands on the iconic Hill of Tara in County Meath, Ireland. St. Patrick holds up a shamrock, which he used to represent the Holy Trinity

Austin Rushnell

Every year, local business, pubs and homes celebrate the spirit of the Irish people on March 17 — but how many people are aware of the origin of the story of St. Patrick’s Day?

The story of St. Patrick’s Day is a long and colorful one, and it starts with the man himself: Saint Patrick.

Patrick originally describes himself in a sixth-century Latin autobiography simply entitled, “Confessio,” or  “(My) Confession.”

Patrick introduces himself saying, “I, Patrick, am a sinner, a most rustic person, and least of all believers ...”

With these humble words starts the story of how Patrick came to Ireland and eventually converted the island to Christianity.

Many people today are unaware that Patrick wasn’t, in fact, Irish at all. The majority of historians today consider Patrick to have been a Welshman. In any case, Patrick himself tells us that he was captured as a boy by Irish pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. There, he had a “vision” of God, who told him to escape to the eastern coast of Ireland where a boat would be waiting for him. Patrick escaped the bonds of slavery and caught a ship back over the sea to Britain.

A few years later, Patrick received another vision wherein a multitude of letters were being sent to him from the Irish people, each one begging that Patrick return and administer the Christian faith to the people.

From there, Patrick returned to Ireland and began to convert the people and their kings to Christianity. Patrick encountered a myriad of difficulties along the way, including imprisonment, exile and persecution.

Eventually, after Patrick, all of Ireland was converted to Christianity and became a bastion of learning during the early Medieval “Dark Ages” and even produced the world’s first colleges, where classes were offered free of charge.

Patrick later was recognized by the Church as a saint, and it is his accomplishments that are celebrated today. As a direct result of St. Patrick’s conversion of Ireland, it became widely known as the “land of saints and scholars.”

Ireland also has become known across the world as the home of many authors, poets and learned men and women.

During this year’s St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, if you’re looking for a good place to celebrate, look no farther than the nearest Irish pub where there are bound to be festivities at hand.

Nolan’s Irish Pub will host its annual St. Patrick’s Day party starting at 9 a.m. and continuing into the evening. The annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be conducted in Downtown Melbourne, with the festivities moving to Meg O’Malley’s Irish Pub and Restaurant.

The Cottage Irish Pub, in Eau Gallie also will celebrate the special day.

So, take this St. Paddy’s Day (from the Irish spelling “Pádraig”) to remember the man that worked so hard to spread enlightenment during the Middle Ages. Give a hearty “sláinte!” (Irish for “cheers!”) to your friends!