A “Pinch” for St. Patrick

One of my earliest memories from elementary school goes back to the day I showed up not wearing green on Saint Patrick’s Day. Within minutes of my arrival I felt the “pinch” of not wearing green in honor of the patron saint of Ireland. Back in those days the tradition was to pinch anyone who did not wear green.

You might ask why? The harsh reality is no one really knows for sure. Most scholars trace the tradition back to the United States to sometime in the early 1800’s. Many suggest it has something to do with a strange superstition about Leprechauns and being wearing green makes you invisible to the devilish plots. All I know is I did not wear green and a cute girl pinched me, so the bottom line. It was a good day!

In America at least 39% or 122,000 people will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this Sunday. There will be St. Patrick’s Day parades in practically every major city with New York hosting the largest with an expected crowd of over two million onlookers watching over 150 bands march by. In Chicago, the city fathers will turn the river “green” in celebration of the holiday by dumping over 40 pounds of green dye into its stream.

I can still vividly remember the Friday in Milwaukee when St. Patrick’s Day landed during Lent. As you may know during Lent Catholics and others avoid eating meat on Fridays, but the tradition in Milwaukee was to celebrate eating corn beef and washing it down with “green beer.” So Catholic priests across the city ruled on whether it was safe to each corn beef that Friday in their parishes. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published on the front page of the paper a huge map of the city pointing the faithful to the “safe zones” in the city to eat their cherished corn beef!

Who is St. Patrick and why is he so popular? Interestingly enough, Patrick served God as a missionary to Ireland back in 432 A.D. Many Church historians attribute the radical transformation of Ireland from a pagan island to a stronghold of Christianity to his work and the work of his followers.

Without doubt Patrick stands out as a very unlikely missionary to Ireland, especially since at the age of sixteen the Irish kidnapped him from his home in Britain and forced him into slavery for six years on the Emerald isle. After his escape from Ireland following a heavenly vision and returning safely home, God called Patrick to return back to the land of his captors with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Patrick obeyed God and returned with a loyal band of followers, and through the use of innovate missionary tactics turned the island upside down for the cause of Christ. Historians report that on a single day Patrick baptized over twelve thousand Irish pagans into the church near Killala.

How did Patrick accomplish this amazing missionary feat? This week I read his biography on the “Biography.com” website. On the sidebar it listed these quick facts about Patrick: Name—St. Patrick; Occupation—Saint; Birth Date: c. 385.

I loved the statement about his occupation as being a “saint.” I would enjoy seeing his job description. Strangely, this secular website nailed it. Patrick was a “fully devoted follower of Jesus”—aka “a saint” which is what we are all called to be. Are you ready for God to use you to change the world?  Patrick said, “Yes” what about you?


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