[The Story Behind] St. Patrick’s Day

By Shelly Voss

   Just inside the doors of Old Navy, I was confronted with mountains of green St. Patrick’s Day t-shirts. “Kiss the Irish,” “Lucky Me,” and “St. Patrick’s Day 2010” is apparently what we as United States consumers should be wearing March 17th. I don’t know about you, but I usually have a super cute, lime green outfit planned (having insisted to my best friend: “Just wear it with me! We’ll take a picture!”) and then forget to wear it.

   I’d always wondered what the point is; why we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. “What’s the story behind this holiday?” I’d wondered when it annually occurred. Recently, however, I found out the story. And boy! Is it a story!

   Around 400 A.D., Patrick was kidnapped from his village in Britain and sold into slavery to an Irish chieftain. After six years of servitude, he managed to escape back to Britain. But he felt conflicted as he remembered the darkness of Ireland and decided to go back to free the Irish from the spiritual bondage that was imposed by their royals. Patrick journeyed back to Ireland to give religious freedom to the people that had enslaved him. And he succeeded! Patrick’s ministry in Ireland lasted 29 years and in those years he baptized over 120,000 Irishmen and planted 300 churches.  Rev. Sean Brady concludes, “He was a man who came to face and help his former enemies who had enslaved him. He came back to help them and to do them a great favor—the greatest favor he possibly could.”

   I don’t even know how the color green and Shamrocks work their way into the holiday, but after hearing his story, I was suddenly excited to celebrate the day honoring this noble man. His courage and faith are an inspiration and challenge to all of us to overcome trials and hardships that come our way—to persevere toward something greater than us. He lived out a glorious example of what it is to live selflessly and sacrificially for the joy and benefit of others.