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Monday, March 17, 2008

Patricius Magonus Sucatus

When I was at Multnomah some years ago I was introduced to St. Patrick. I always celebrated St. Patty’s Day along with everyone else but had no clue what this guy ever did until I paid someone a few thousand dollars a year to tell me.

I’ll admit, if it were only about beer, corned beef, dying rivers green, and pinching people I would still celebrate it. But, there is more to Patrick than games, fashion and fattening cuisine. And, there are some things you my think are true about Patrick that aren’t.

If Patrick were alive, we’d hang. I remember my Missions prof. Norm Cook telling stories about Patrick being one of the first examples we have of a missionary embracing the culture he was ministering to—using the traditions, art, language of the culture in spiritual conversation.

I think he had a Celtic cross tattoo but I can’t prove it. Educated guess.

So, let’s debunk a few myths.

Myth #1 : : : Patrick was Irish.

Nope. Patrick devoted his life to sharing the gospel in Ireland (and why not) but he was born a Roman Britain.

Myth #2 : : : Patrick was Catholic.

False. He was neither Protestant nor Catholic. The Catholics claim him and have named him a saint (though he was never canonized as a saint by any Pope).

Myth #3 : : : Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland.

Cool as that would be, not true. Many believe the “snakes” are a metaphor for the druids and their way of life that grew into urban legend and folklore.

Myth #4 : : : Patrick loved green.

Nope. I mean, maybe he did but that has nothing to do with us wearing green on the holiday. Green is often the color associated with the Catholics and orange with the Protestants. The flag of the Republic of Ireland is green and orange with a white stripe down the middle symbolizing peace between the two (this is why some protestants wear orange on St. Patty’s day).

Myth #5 : : : Patrick loved green beer.
Actually, this may be true. At least, we know that the British church was repeatedly angry at him for the kinds of things the religious leaders got mad at Jesus for—hanging out with sinners.

Myth #6 : : : Patrick invented the Shamrock Shake.

No. But there are stories about Patrick using the three-leaf clover when discussing the Trinity.

Myth #7 : : : Patrick was a devoted Christian from the time he was a child.
Not really. He rejected his family’s faith as a young boy. As a teenager he was captured by pirates and forced into slavery. As a slave, he received his calling.

For more really cool stuff about Patrick, pick up the book, “How the Irish Saved Civilization.” You can also read a bunch of helpful info at the History Channel’s site.