Thursday, March 17, 2016

When Saint Patrick Ran Away With the Dog Dealers

St. Patrick was actually a Roman by the name of Maewyn Succat, born in 387 AD in either Banwen, Wales (most likely) or Kilpatrick, Scotland. 

At the age of 16 Maewyn was captured by Irish raiders and sold as a slave to the Irish chieftan Milchu of Dalriada.  

For the next six years Maewyn tended his Irish slave master's sheep and pigs in the Braid valley of Ireland, where he worked the dogs and learned the Celtic language.

After six years of forced service, Maewyn ran away from his master and his flocks, heading 200 miles to the coast.  There he stumbled on a ship from Gaul that was loaded with large dogs assembled by dog dealers bent on shipping them to the continent, where they were to be used against wild animals and gladiators in the Roman arenas.   

Maewyn convinced the dog dealers that he had a way with dogs and could be of use, and he shipped with them, first to Scotland and then to Spain, where the poorly outfitted expedition nearly starved to death. 

At long last, and after selling the dogs, Maewyn was allowed his freedom and a small stipend, and he headed to Tours, France (Gaul) where he joined St Martin's Monastery. There he became a devout Christian and was renamed Patricius by Pope Celestine I. In 432  he was sent back to Ireland to convert the heathens to Christianity. 

Patricius, now called Patrick, landed with his companions at the mouth of the Vantry River close to Wicklow Head, and through a series of fabled exploits converted a great number of Pagans to Christianity before he died in 461 AD.  

Despite his common name, St. Patrick has never been formally canonized by the Catholic Church. 

As for the notion that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, it's simply not true; there were never any snakes in Ireland.  What St. Patrick did was begin to rid Ireland of the influence of Paganism, which was often associated with twisted snake-like celtic line-drawings of animals.

One final note:  In Ireland the bars were traditionally closed on St. Patrick's Days, as it was considered a religious holiday. A drunken St. Patrick's Day is an American fabrication that came to Ireland after 1970.

1 comment:

Zing4 said...

After I sent a cousin your interesting St. Patrick's article she returned the following.

Re St. Patrick's status:
'Virgil is one of only four Irish saints to be canonized by Rome. “There was no formal process for canonization in place when Patrick died. He was proclaimed a saint by popular acclaim, probably with the approval of a bishop. The official process for canonization did not come until about the 12th century."'
St. Patrick was never canonized a saint by the Catholic Church