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In the fifth-century, there lived a spoiled and rebellious young Roman who lived a life of luxury in Britain.
At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped from his family’s estate and sold into slavery, carried across the sea a short distance to Ireland. Placed in captivity for 6 years, he endured harsh weather and brutal conditions as he tended his master’s sheep on the Emerald Isle.
Arriving in Ireland an Atheist, the man claimed to hear the voice of God speak to him. Shortly afterwards, he converted to Christianity and developed a deep relationship with God.
After escaping his master and fleeing back to Britain, this Christian man continued to cultivate his spiritual wisdom and deepen in faith. Though his family welcomed back their long-lost son and assumed he would go back to a life of privilege, the man heard a different call. He returned to Ireland as a missionary, keen to bring a new and better way of life to a people who had once enslaved him.
For decades he worked as a teacher and writer – facing opposition, threats of violence, and criticism from jealous church officials. He stayed strong in his mission, and eventually became a prominent religious figure. His perseverance and strength was (and is) a source of inspiration to many, and after his death he was canonized.
The name of this man? Saint Patrick.
Myths and legends have always circulated around the lives and works of Saints, and Saint Patrick is no different. Centuries after his death, many started to claim that he used the shamrock, a three-leafed green plant, as a teaching tool to explain the Holy Trinity to Pagans.
A fine and beautiful story, the association between Saint Patrick and the shamrock took root, and the plant became a symbol for Saint Patrick and for Ireland. Today, it is commonly used in the religious celebration that is held to mark his death on March 17th: Saint Patrick’s Day.
Saint Patrick’s Day has been held since the early 17th century to commemorate the arrival of Christianity to Ireland. Now, however, it is much more widely recognized as a celebration of Irish culture and heritage.
Within the last century, the thousands of Irish immigrants and expatriates who were looking to reaffirm their roots began to invest their energies into celebrating the holiday. Their efforts have made the holiday a worldwide celebration, from Canada to Brazil and Argentina, the United States, Australia, and of course, Ireland. Stereotypes of the Irish have, of course, crept into the celebration of “St Paddy’s Day.” Not all Irish people love to drink, but on the whole they are indeed a friendly and charismatic bunch – even if they do occasionally like to complain, and often talk about the weather.
One thing that’s for sure: celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day is fun! However you’re celebrating – joining a local parade, drinking a green beer, digging out your leprechaun outfit, or scattering Shramrock confetti wherever you go – March 17th is also a great excuse to learn more about the culture and heritage of one of the most vibrant countries on earth.
So, whether your family has Irish heritage, you’ve visited the Emerald Isle, or you’d just like to get into the spirit of Saint Patrick’s Day, we’re here to help! We’ve put together a list of quotes that celebrate Ireland and the unique spirit of the Irish people. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!