Yesterday was the day to celebrate St. Patrick one of the most recognised saints, second only to St. Nicholas. March 17th is also a day when everyone’s Irish, or at least looking for an Irish connection. Some of the largest celebrations are held outside of Ireland and for a large group of Expats and a few Panameños in the burg it was a reason to get together, wear green and celebrate.
St. Patrick was born around 385 in Britain to wealthy Roman parents. Sometime between the age of 14 to 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish marauders and taken to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for comfort, learned the language and practices of the people who held him and became a devout Christian.
Patrick’s confinement lasted until he was twenty, more than six years. He escaped after having a dream in which God to him to leave Ireland by going to the coast. He walked nearly 200 miles where he found some sailors who took him back to Britain, reuniting with his family. 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 once more.” He began his studies for the priesthood which lasted more than 15 years. When Patrick was ordained as a bishop, he returned to bring the Gospel to Ireland. There were a small number of Christians on the island when Patrick arrived although most Irish practiced a nature-based pagan religion. Patrick began preaching the Gospel throughout Ireland and preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461.
Modern traditions of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day are about drinking green beer, parades and the shamrock. For many people in colder countries St. Patrick’s Day is a sign that Spring is around the corner. We joked about having our own “St. Patrick’s Day Queen and Court” and shoot off fireworks similar to what the locals have for all their festivities. But for the townsfolk last night it was an opportunity to eat a little Irish Stew, drink some Guinness and green wine, and watch one of our amigas do an Irish dance for us under a large glowing moon in the campo.