Happy St. Patrick's Day. Are ye wearing yer' green today? I am. I have some Irish blood flowing through my veins. My grandmother's maiden name was O'Connor, as one of the five original tribes of Ireland, and her Irish relatives came to the U.S. from Limerick, as made famous by Frank McCourt's Pulitzer Prize winning novel Angela's Ashes.
So in honor of the day here's a little history on the man of the day St. Patrick:
Patrick was really a Brit., he was born in Britain around the end of the fourth century. He was taken prisoner by Irish raiders that were attacking his families estate and was held captive in Ireland for six years. During this time he became deeply religious while seeking solace in his situation. Eventually he escaped back to Britain. He was told by a voice he believed to be God to return to Ireland to convert Irish pagans to Christianity. (Although some believe he introduced Christianity to the green isle, he actually was sent back to not only convert but to minister to the Christians there.) He incorporated traditional Irish symbols into Christianity rather than forcing the Irish to lose their traditions. This includes using the bon fire during Easter (we always light a fire during the Easter vigil to symbolize Christ's light) and incorporating the sun into the cross, this has become the Celtic Cross. He spent his life ministering to the Irish and eventually became the Bishop, which he almost didn't get because he didn't have the proper book learning usually required. He is believed to have died on or around March 17 460 AD.
There is only 2 known documents attributed to Patrick and where we received the most knowledge about his life is through The Confession of St. Patrick. It's a little long, but interesting.
If you want to read about some famous Irish folks try here. (Note, Ireland is a progressive country now. They have had two women presidents, and as you know, that's 2 more than the U.S.)
So even if you have no Irish lineage (everyone can't be blessed like that) enjoy the day and have may the luck o' the Irish be with you today!