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St. Patrick's Day - 17th March 1998St. Patrick's Day - 17th March 1998
The History

  Patrick was a man of limited education, having been taken from his family and sold into slavery at such a young age. He decided to return to his studies and travelled to the Monastery of Auxerre in France, where he was known for his dedication and enthusiasm.

During his time at Auxerre, the monks decided that the time had come to send a mission to Ireland. Patrick was sorely disappointed when his request to be sent to Ireland was denied and another monk, Palladius, was chosen instead.

Curbing his disappointment, Patrick settled back into his studies. After a year or two, news that Palladius had died reached the monastery. Another mission was now to be sent to Ireland, which Patrick was to lead. He was called to Rome, and in 432 Pope Celestine bequeathed the honour of Bishop upon him before he embarked on his holy mission.

Patrick and 25 followers arrived in Ireland in the winter of 432. The band of religious crusaders spent the winter sheltering under the kind patronage of Dichiu, a local landowner, who was one of the first Irish converts to Christianity.

In the spring, Patrick decided to confront the High King of Tara, the most powerful man in Ireland. Patrick knew that if he could enlist his support then he would be free to take God's message to the people of Ireland. To gain his attention Patrick knew he would have to make a dramatic signal.

In direct breach of the king's orders, Patrick and his supporters built a huge fire on March 25. This was the traditional start of spring, and was celebrated by King Laoghaire, the High King of Tara, with the lighting of a massive fire. No fire was to be lit before the king's.

Seeing flames rise high in the air, King Laoghaire was incensed. He gathered the princes of Ireland around him, and they raced in their war chariots to find the usurper who challenged the High King's authority.

When the groups met, the contrast between them was dramatic. The King and his princes wore bejewelled garments, which illustrated the stark plainness of the vestments worn by Patrick and his holy followers. Patrick spoke clearly and concisely to King Laoghaire explaining who they were and that they had no intentions other than spreading the Gospel throughout the land.

St Patrick's composure and quiet confidence impressed King Loaghaire. He invited him to the Royal Court at Tara the following day. The procession approached Tara, led by St Patrick bearing a massive cross. They sang a hymn that is still known as the Breastplate of St Patrick.

The missionaries must have been astounded at the opulence that greeted them when they entered the hall at Tara, having been used to the formality of Roman style. Ignoring the many gathered there, St Patrick approached King Laoghaire and said, " Here I am." The King responded by taking St Patrick's hands in his and kissing him on the cheek.

The druids were incensed at the King's actions - as they would be out of a job if the King accepted Patrick's religion - and demanded to know whether he could create snow. Sensing a trap, Patrick replied that it was God's place, not his, to determine the weather. Astonished, he gazed out to the countryside which moments before had been basking in the spring sun. Now, blankets of snow were cascading down. St Patrick, knowing no other course of action, made the sign of the cross and, miraculously the snow disappeared and the sunshine resumed.


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