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St. Patrick, also called the Apostle of Ireland, is -- along
with St. Nicholas and St. Valentine -- one of the world's most popular saints. His
traditional feast day is March 17. There are many legends and stories about him, but this is said to be
the true one. He was born around 385 in Scotland, probably in
Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans
living in Britain in charge of the colonies. His British name was
As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured by Irish marauders and
taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this
time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and
practices of the people who held him.
The young herdsman saw visions in which he was urged to escape, and
after six years of slavery he did so. He went to the coast where he
was found by sailors who took him back to Britain, where he reunited
with his family.
Once back in Britain, he had another dream in which the
people of Ireland were calling out to him
"We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us
|He travelled to the northern coast of Gaul (now France), where he
began his studies for priesthood under St. Germanius, the Bishop of
Auxerre, who ordained him as priest.
- France 1996. "Imaginary Ireland". Beautiful
postally used copy of a stamp issued in the honour of St. Patrick.
Later Patrick, when ordained bishop, was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland.
He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, and began preaching the Gospel throughout
the island converting thousands, and began also building churches all over the
country. Through 40 years Patrick converted most of the inhabitants, and is also
said to have worked many miracles. After years of living in poverty, traveling
and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461. He died at Saul, where
he had built the first church.
17th March is his traditional feast day, celebrated by Irish
communities world wide.
On 12 September 1997, a new 32p stamp marking the 150th Anniversary of San
Patricio (St. Patrick's Battalion) Mexican Army, was issued simultaneously by
the Irish and Mexican Post Offices. The stamp was designed by Lorenzo
Rafael, and features a Celtic High Cross, with the crest of the battalion.
The Mexican stamp has a face value of 3.40 Dollars. The cancel shows a
shamrock, always used by St. Patrick to explain the Trinity, and this plant has
therefore been associated with him and the Irish people ever since.
The San Patricio followed in a long tradition, dating back to the 16th
century, when young men left Ireland and joined in the armies of their adopted
countries. In the case of the San Patricio, many of its members were persuaded
to join following capture in the Mexican-American War 1845-47.
Although it was made up of a number of nationalities the
majority were Irish, serving under a green flag bearing the harp,
shamrock and the figure of St. Patrick.
They fought with
distinction at the Battle of Buena Vista and in the defence of the
convent of Churubusco in Mexico City before being overwhelmed.
Following the battle, fifty members of the battalion
were executed, while the surviving members disbanded after the war. A
plaque in the town of San Angel, where some of the hangings took place
bears the inscription:
"The Irish soldiers of the heroic San
Patricio Battalion, martyrs, who gave their lives for the cause of
On 28th February 2003 the Irish Post Office has honoured Saint
Patrick with a set of three stamps, the classical portrait of the saint himself,
and two views of the Saint Patrick's Day parade in New York City in front of the
cathedral named for him.
- Eire 2003. St. Patrick.
- The Classical Figure.
- St. Patricks Day in New York.
- St. Patrick's Parade in New York in front of St. Patrick's
Saint Patrick's Day Celebration
Scan © Microsoft Encarta
Patrick's Cathedral, New York.
Scan © Mrs. K. Petersen (Denmark)
- Every year on March 17, Irish Americans celebrate Saint Patrick's
Day with parades and pageantry. The holiday honours the man who
brought Christianity to Ireland in the 5th century. According to
legend, Saint Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain
the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Leprachauns, a mythical
race of elves who bestow their hidden treasure on anyone who can catch
them, symbolize the famous "luck of the Irish".
- These bagpipers march past Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York
City on March 17, during the annual Saint Patrick's Day Parade.
Saint Patrick's Day, traditionally celebrated in honour of the patron
saint of Ireland, has become largely a non-religious holiday in the
|Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day has been a tradition in the United States since 1737, when the Charitable Irish Society of Boston organized the first St. Patrick’s Day parade. New York City’s parade began in 1762.
St. Patrick's Day was even acknowledged by General George Washington during the American Revolution. In 1780, during the Continental Army’s bitter winter encampment in Morristown, New Jersey, Washington permitted his troops, many of whom were of Irish descent, a holiday on March 17. This event is now known as the St. Patrick's Day Encampment of 1780.
Today, more than 100 U.S. cities hold St. Patrick’s Day parades. The parade up Fifth Avenue in New York City is the largest and most famous. The parade traditionally stops at St. Patrick's Cathedral for a blessing of the marchers by the cardinal of New York. The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Savannah, Georgia, first held in 1824, is one of the largest and oldest in the United States. In Canada, Montréal’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, first held in 1824, is the oldest in the country. Toronto has held a large parade since 1988.
Popular St. Patrick’s Day customs in the United States and Canada include drinking beer that has been
coloured green, eating corned beef and cabbage, wearing shamrock pins and green clothing, and generally celebrating all things Irish. In Chicago, the Chicago River is dyed green, a tradition started in 1962.