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Happy Saint Patrick's Day (Part the Third)

March 17, 2010

In case you missed the previous two parts in this scintillating series, here is Part the First and Part the Second.

Saints and begorrah! Is it Saint Patrick's Day already? Hard to believe that this is the first time I've dipped into the hagiography this year, but maybe it just means that I'm actually putting thought and foresight into my posts and not just "Let's see what obscure Catholic saint I can poke fun at today". I might as well confess (see what I did there?): The Saints post are to me what Jay and Silent Bob are to Kevin Smith.

However, I would argue that, after Jesus' parents, Saint Patrick is the most famous Saint "recognized" in America. And he's only recognized because he's a convenient excuse to drink, which is silly because Saint Arnold is considered the patron saint of brewers (his patronage is on July 8, just so you know). Saint Martin (feast day November 11) is considered the Patron Saint of "drunks", in that he's the Saint you invoke in an attempt to sober your friends up.

Let's not let facts get in the way of a little celebration! We're here to talk about Patrick!

As I mentioned Monday, Saint Patrick was born in the province of Brittania, some time around A.D. 387. This would make him a Roman citizen. He grew up on the western shores of Great Britain, probably in the modern county of Cumbria. Around sixteen, he was captured by those nefarious raiding neighbors to the west, the Irish (or, the Hibernii, as they would have been called in Roman lands). This started his life as a slave.

One of the major occurrences that happened prior to Patrick being born was Emperor Constantine's edict that Christians were no longer to be lion food in any of the great hippodromes around the empire. This began making Christianity not only tolerable in the empire, but also a bit of a fad. If it's good for the Emperor, it's good for us, too. Constantine himself didn't convert to Christianity until he was lying on his deathbed, which would have been sometime in spring of 337--putting it off, it seems, to maximize that whole "one baptism for the forgiveness of sins" deal.

This is important because the citizenry of the empire were, for the most part, Christian by the time Patricius (his given, Roman name) was born, whereas the dastardly Hibernians still worships the Badb and the Dagda. So, while Patricius was tending his captors' flocks as a shepherd, he prayed, because if you're a slave sitting alone on the hillside with a bunch of sheep, might as well talk to God. Am I right, folks?

After six or seven years as a slave, Patricius decided it was enough of this sterco and ran away. Somehow, he talked his way onto a merchant ship bound for the mainland (some say it was divine intervention) and then went to Rouen (which was known as Rotomagus under Roman rule, or roughly "magic turn"), which had a monastery. Here, Patrick studied the Gospel before returning home to his family in western Britain.

However, when he got home, he didn't feel at home. Bah, kids! So, he decided to go back to Ireland in order to spread the Word of God. As you might have heard, he did just that, making him, possibly, one of the very first Christian missionaries in the world. At the time, there wasn't much call for the people of the church to go out and try and convert the pagans...probably because the pagans were more interested in destroying what was left of the Roman Empire, raping and pillaging along the way.

So, what drove Patrick to return to the island where he was a slave for so many years, where one would think he would not want to be? We might be able to figure out just why he went back to Ireland, if we read his Confession (or Confessio): women.

Saints be praised! Patricius had him a soft spot (or a hard one) for the fine lasses of Ireland. We know this because, in his Confession, Patrick references the beauty of several of the women that he baptizes...which we can also assume was done by means of full immersion. Oh, Patrick, you devil! And while there's no record that Patrick ever took a wife (aside from his writings--saved by the Irish while they were rescuing civilization!--there's really not much record of Patrick at all), there's no reason why he couldn't have been married. From what we can tease out of his writings, Patrick had quite an eye for the ladies.

Now, this cat T.F. O'Rahilly postulated back in the 40s that Patrick was really another saint, Saint Palladius, who was the first bishop of Ireland. Palladius might have been the first bishop of Ireland, but in order for there to be Christians there, someone would have had to have brought the word of Christ to the Irish. As most bishops and priests were more worried about lying upon their horde of gold stashed in the back of their churches, this someone was most likely Patrick.

Eventually, all good things must end, and as such, so did Patrick. He died, reportedly, on March 17th (hey! that's today!) in 460 A.D., though some accounts have him dying as late as 533. This, you might deduce, was probably a different Patrick, or maybe a different saint altogether.

Therefore, while you're out enjoying your green beer today, think of Ireland's most famous Patron Saint, who wasn't Irish at all (unlike Brigid and Comcille, who are both Patron Saints of Ireland and who were actually Irish). This makes complete sense, as most people who celebrate St Patrick's Day aren't Irish, either!

So, let's tip our glasses to St. Patrick today as we don our green, head out to the bars, and wait for that first drunk asshole to stumble up to us and, in his worst, sloppy drunken accent ask "Pardon me, lass, but do you have any Irish in you?" And then, before you can answer, he screams "Would you like some?"

Also...I can't drink beer anymore. So, please, if you're headed out to the bar tonight, drink one down for your old buddy Jenks, who is there with you in spirit. And, if you really want to feel like I'm out drinking with you, grope yourself clumsily and then offer up apologies for the rest of the evening.

Saints and begorrah, indeed.

9 comments:

kate said...

I, for one, would be more than happy to take down a beer or two for you today (and while my non-Irish ass is flailing around Kansas City like a drunken fool, I'll be sure to raise a glass of probably-flat-green-Bud-Light to the non-Irish patron Saint of the most Irish holiday ever!)

Wynn said...

So the celebration of st pattys is actually celebrating that he died? Awesome, with.. drinking alcohol until we ourselves, the day after, kinda wished we were dead? Like sacrificing our own bodies to the saint?

Awesome. Let's not try that. But that's because I'm friggin lame.

BeckEye said...

Actually, in many parts of Pennsylvania, the most famous Saint is St. Philip of Punxsatawney, who, like St. Patrick, is a delightful excuse to drink.

words...words...words... said...

Though Patrick may not have been Irish, that is pretty much the most Irish story I've ever heard.

Don't call it a comeback.

Sully said...

Tilting one back for you now, sir.

Cheers.

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

Why can't you drink beer?

What the fuck is up with that?

Jon Paul said...

I'll skip the groping but I'm raising one to you as we speak. Very nice series on one of my favorite subjects: drinking, uh, er...St. Patrick's and his very special Day, I meant to say.

There, that rhymed. How's that?

Scope said...

I walked by Paddy O'Splaine's tonight. Closest all come to a bar this year.

Sadly.

Moooooog35 said...

I like boobies.

Just thought I'd throw that out there.

You complete me.