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St. Patrick: The myth, the legend


Saint Patrick's Day is both a religious and cultural day of remembrance and celebration, recognized all over the world. Today, many of us put on our green garments, and claim at least some fraction of Irish descent. Others may venture to a St. Patrick's Day parade, visit a cathedral for High Mass, or indulge in a pint or two of Ireland's finest brew. But, what do we really know about St. Patrick?

Well, St. Patrick was not of Irish descent. That should make the masses feel better about their Irish claims one day per year. I'll wager that many of you didn't know St. Patrick was actually kidnapped by Irish pirates, and help captive for six years during his teenage years. As a slave in Ireland, St. Patrick worked as a sheppard. Only then, did he find religion. That's right, the famous saint was not always a believer, despite his father and grandfather being religious figures in his home of Britain.

The short version of a long, and uncertain story, is that St. Patrick gained a sense of spirituality during his time as a slave. The isolation and grim conditions of slavery led him to open himself up to a higher and wiser being. After being led by visions to his escape, St. Patrick found freedom in his 20s, after finally returning home to Britain. His journey was reportedly rugged and straining, but he found the strength to see it through.

What's interesting is that Patrick's venture into mission work led him back to Ireland, the place which held a specific stigma of his captivity. He overcame the trauma of his past to seek change in his present. Now, there are few records of Patrick's life, and those which exist are only brief accounts of his life. Because of this limited reference, we do not know the actual motivation he felt, driving him back to Ireland. Let's assume it was motivation of genuine and positive influence.

While in Ireland, St. Patrick was not so welcomed, and, according to his letters, experienced much ridicule for being there. It is suggested that he may have been held captive again during his chosen life in the Green Isle. The story suggests that he persevered, regardless of the trials and tribulations.

Other than an enlightening account of St. Patrick on St. Patrick's Day, why is a mindfulness-based therapist writing about the life of a Christian saint? Well, my atte