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The Historic St Patrick

St. Patrick was a Christian missionary from Britain who travelled to Ireland to become a bishop.  He is know as the Enlightener of Ireland, the Primate of Ireland and the Patron Saint of Ireland.  Even though Christianity had already come to Ireland by Patrick's time, he is credited with turning the island from Celtic polytheism to Christian monotheism.  Patrick wrote an autobiography where he described his kidnapping by pirates at age 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave where he cared for animals for six years until escaping back to Britain.  After becoming a cleric, he travelled back to Ireland to become a bishop.  We don't how much of his story is historically accurate and it may been intended as an allegory, considering its similarity to certain stories in the Christian Bible. 

The legends of St. Patrick are metaphors for bringing Christianity to a nation that followed an ancient Celtic religion led by druids.  The most famous of these legends it that Patrick banished snakes from the entire island.  The legend goes that Patrick fasted for 40 days atop a hill, during which he was attached by snakes that he then drove into the sea.  However there have been snakes in Ireland; the legend it probably meant to mirror a Biblical story about Moses, who used his staff to defend himself against the snakes sent at him by Pharaoh's sorcerers.  Another legend popular in Ireland is actually about St. Patrick's staff made of ash wood, which he would stick into the ground where he preached Christianity.  He would stay there for however long it took to convert the Celtic people there, which may take so long that his staff would take root and sprout into an ash tree.  Another legend that still has a place in our holiday traditions involves the shamrock.  The Celts in Ireland had difficulty understanding the concept of monotheism, and specifically the idea of the Holy Trinity.  St. Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain how his deity had three parts but was still one being, just like the shamrock had three leaves but was still one plant.  This was particularly important to the Irish, as 3 is an important in many of their most well know stories and ancient traditions. 

Gather Family Abroad Back to Their Roots

Why not invite any of our Irish abroad that you are in touch with, and who aren’t able to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in a normal way this year, to tune into the Mass from Ballinora at 10am on March 17th. Send them the link: In case of time differences, a recording of the Mass will also be available afterwards.

If they want to send greetings or messages home, they can send them to, and some could be read at the Mass, or displayed on the Ballinora Parish Facebook page, or on the website

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