God used St. Patrick, Dreams and my mother Patricia
By Michael J. Sparks
March 16, 2019
Saint Patrick’s Day, is celebrated in many parts of the world on March 17 and is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival. The popular holiday is in remembrance of Patrick of Ireland, who is one of the world’s most popular saints and is known as the famous patron saint of Ireland.
As a young child growing up I had heard the story of Saint Patrick from my mother, Patricia (Flynn) Chance. My mother, who is Catholic was born on Saint Patrick’s Day and is named after the patron saint. She was also born and raised in the area of the Grassmarket, nestled in the heart of Edinburgh’s historic Old Town just behind Edinburgh Castle.
Image of The Grassmarket, to the top right on the hill is Edinburgh Castle
As a boy, although I had no choice, I reluctantly went to mass with my mother every Sunday morning and on many evenings as well. In the book of Proverbs 22:6, it states, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Due to my mother’s influence we were certainly trained up as children. The one scripture that my mother mentioned weekly always stands out to me is found in the book of James, “You have not because you ask not.” Praying in the morning for God’s direction and his blessing was a daily routine, just like it is with my mornings to this day.
In a recent survey among Americans 5.4 million, which is1.7% of the U.S. population, reported Scottish ancestry and 3 million (0.9% of the U.S. population) identified more specifically with Scotch-Irish ancestry. Here in American, we conceived many of the St. Patrick’s day traditions. Irish immigrant soldiers here in America fighting the British during the Revolutionary war held the first St. Patrick’s day parades. Their efforts were to help stay connected to their Irish roots. The wearing green became the fashionable tradition and a way to show solidarity with Irish roots on the feast day.
My mother, who is Scotch-Irish (her grandfather was from Ireland) and millions more Americans have Scotch-Irish ancestry. The Scotch-Irish were 40 percent of the Revolutionary War army. Many of our American heroes were from Scotch-Irish decent, including the pioneers Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston and even Lewis and Clark. They also include great writers such as Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, John Steinbeck and others. Many of our numerous great military leaders, including George S. Patton, Stonewall Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant were from Scotch-Irish ancestory. Many of our U.S. presidents, including Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and our current President Donald Trump were of Scotch-Irish decent (Donald Trump’s mother was Mary Anne MacLeod, born in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland).
The City of Chicago in 1962 began dying the river green for the first time. The feast day didn’t become a big celebration in Ireland until the 1970s.
Image of the Chicago River dyed green in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day
The beloved patron Saint of Ireland was born around 386 in Scotland, probably Kilpatrick. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britain of great importance and most likely rulers in the British colonies. His aristocratic Christian family owned a townhouse, a country villa, and plenty of slaves.
Patrick was a Christian missionary, folklore has it that once upon a time, snakes were slithering around the green Irish countryside. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland during the fifth century, A.D. Eliminating the snakes from Ireland is most liley an unlikely tale. The Emerald isle, what we know of as the country of Ireland is one of only a handful of places worldwide, including Iceland, New Zealand, Greenland, and Antarctica that the slithering reptiles are not found. Legend has it that St. Patrick stood on a hilltop and waved his staff to herd the reptilian creatures into the sea chased the slithering reptiles into the sea after they began attacking him during a 40-day fast he undertook on top of a hill, thus eradicating them from the Emerald Isle forever. It is said, that there hasn’t been a snake seen on the Emerald Isle since 461 AD (other than the rare aquarium pet or at the zoo).
At 16, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates and sent overseas to herd and tend sheep as a slave in the chilly, mountainous countryside of Ireland for seven years.
According to folklore, he experienced a dream that showed him how to escape from his captors. He found passage on a pirate ship back to Britain and was reunited with his family.
After being safe at home in Britain he had another dream. The dream told him to go back to Ireland and help the Irish people. Later, Patrick became an ordained bishop, and was sent to spread the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at an area called Slane. One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu, the chieftain, after he was unable to move his arm until he treated Patrick well.
At the time, the Emerald Isle was full of Druids, pagans and certainly non-belivers, but Patrick sought God daily and wrote in his memoir, The Confession. In The Confession, he wrote:
“The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same. I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.”
Many are familiar with the Shamrock, the emblem synonymous with Saint Patrick. The Shamrock has a very long colourful tradition. The shamrock is a three-leaf clover; the plant was used by Saint Patrick to illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity. The three-leaf clover is significant to different people and can evoke messages relating to national pride, religion, history, celebration etc. The Shamrock, Seamóg or Seamair Óg, the three-leaf clover can be found growing wild throughout Ireland. During the feast day of St. Patrick, 17th March, it is often worn to represent a link with Saint Patrick, the Bishop who spread the Christian message in Ireland. Saint Patrick used the three-leaf Shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to the pagan Irish during the 5th Century. Wearing the Shamrock became a tradition on Saint Patrick’s Day and can be traced back to the early 1700’s.
Patrick, along with his many disciples, among them Beningnus, Fiaac, Auxilius and Iserninus, (all were later canonized) helped to preach and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. Folklore says he performed many miracles and wrote of his love for God. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461.