Friday, March 17, 2006

Ethnoreligious roots: St Pat: Irish all over the world and their friends celebrate Ireland's first Bishop

Well, I goggled for something to help me celebrate St Paddy's Day on this blog. I was greeted by a special logo for the day. So here it is. Then, thinking of "the Luck of the Irish," I entered "St Patrick Day Ireland civilization" (I vaguely had a special book in mind, but didn't use the Amazon search option). When Google confronted me with a general search or "I'm feeling lucking," for the best single result - given my search terms, I chose the latter.

Google St Pat's Day

Presto! I got St Anthony's Messenger with a full feature on St Patrick by Anita McSorley, "The Saint Patrick You Never Knew." I wanted to launch the day with some historical accuracy as well as Christian appreciation of the man. What I didn't know was that as a teenager Patrick, of a Christian family but "not very religious," was seized by a band Irish kidnappers and taken from Roman Britain in the 400s AD, as a slave, to Ireland. He was a rugged lad who survived the slavery, maybe he was ransomed (we don't know, but that happened), anyway he got back to Britain and his family and his education - where he crystallized his sense of calling to become a missionary to the unevangelized "barbarians" to the west of the British Isles under Rome.

The rugged man was on his way to becoming a ruff-and-ready Bishop, and eventually to be recognized as a Saint. McSorley segments her text into six parts, so you can do a Quick Scan to decide where you actually may want to read deeper, or not.

StPat icon[MichaelO'NeillMcGrath]
Illustration by Michael O'Neill McGrath, OBFS

• Patrick in Myth and History
• Stranger in a Strange Land
• Patron Saint of the Excluded
• Patrick the Mystic
• Patrick's Lasting Legacy
• Patrick at the Judgment
• Patrick's Lasting Legacy

Oh, i notice, here's the book I'm looking for: Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization - Western civilization, that is, during "the Time of the Barbarians" (Daniel-Rops) or, more commonly, "The Dark Ages" of much of Europe. These northern seag-going outsiders poured down from northern lands and in the wildest outcome a branch called the Visigoths crossed into North Africa and destroyed the Latinate Roman civilization there, to the grief of Saint Augustine in Carthage, now laid waste. In time, the Muslims came from the opposite direction and displaced the slowly Christianized Visigoths and indigenous North Africans. But how the Irish priests, monks, nuns, and laity countered this trend from their island starting place - truly the great legacy of Patrick - is a story you may want to read. Cahill's book (How the Irish Saved Civilization (Hinges of History) (Paperback) ) has been a bestseller and continues to find new readers. - Anaximaximum

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