When you think of St. Patrick’s Day and the man behind the holiday, ol’ St. Patrick himself, what comes to mind?
For me it was shamrocks, leprechauns and other fairies dressed in green, rainbows with pots of gold, corn beef and cabbage, snakes, parades, celebrations, green beer, Ireland, and inventive traps made by covetous elementary school students. And don’t forget the obligatory green article of clothing lest you get pinched.
Regardless of what I knew (or, in this case, thought I knew) about St. Patrick and the day that memorializes him, I learned the truth about him from watching St. Patrick: Pilgrimage to Peace. If you’re like me, you love watching documentaries that provide you with gobs of new information and debunk those myths of your youth (or yesterday).
Of all the common misconceptions surrounding St. Patrick and St. Patrick’s Day, one of the largest has to be St. Patrick’s nationality. Of course, one would naturally assume that because of his close association with Ireland that he was Irish. I know I did. Alas, he is not Irish, but rather British.
St. Patrick was born and raised as a Roman Britain before being kidnapped by Irish pirates at the age of sixteen. He was held captive in an Irish prison for six years before escaping and sailing back to England. Although St. Patrick’s time as a slave was harsh, it was there where he found God, often praying more than one hundred times a day and one hundred times a night.
When he finally reunited with his family in Britain, God appeared to him in a dream telling him to return to the land of his captors and abusers to introduce the people of Ireland to the Lord our Savior. For the rest of his life, St. Patrick traveled throughout Ireland building churches and converting the people from polytheism to Christianity. It became his life’s mission to serve God by ministering to the Irish, including many of the slaves he spent time with in captivity.
There are still plenty of interesting facts about St. Patrick’s life and his work spreading Christianity throughout Ireland that you’ll want to watch St. Patrick: Pilgrimage to Peace on your own to uncover.
Today, St. Patrick’s Day is only celebrated as an official holiday in a handful of countries: the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Montserrat, and the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. Although St. Patrick’s Day is not an official holiday in the U.S., it doesn’t stop Americans from celebrating.
St. Patrick’s Day celebrations around the world are often filled with crazy parades – the first of which was held in New York City in the 1760s – copious amounts of green beer being consumed by the pints, and even entire rivers being dyed green, as in the case of the Chicago River. And, again, don’t forget the imperative green attire although green wasn’t the color most people associated with St. Patrick’s Day until 1798. Up until then, blue was the color most commonly linked to St. Patrick.
St. Patrick: Pilgrimage to Peace is a well-researched and entertaining documentary that honors a man with a heart to love, bless, and deliver the message of Jesus Christ to the people of Ireland, including those who had even mistreated him.
Watch St. Patrick: Pilgrimage to Peace on Inspiration TV on Demand anytime.
John Farrell is the Digital Content Writer / Editor of Inspiration.org.
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