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March 17.

St. Patrick. St. Joseph, of Arimathea. St. Gertrude, Abbess, A.D. 626.

Apostle of Ireland.

St. Patrick was born towards the end of the fourth century, in Killpatrick, between Dunbriton and Glasgow. At sixteen he was carried off with many of his father's vassals into slavery, and compelled for six months to keep cattle on the mountains in Ireland, from whence he escaped through the humanity of some sailors. He travelled into Gaul and Italy, and received his apostolical mission to convert the Irish, from pope Celestine, who died in 432. Determined on attempting conversion of the people, he penetrated to the remotest corners of Ireland, baptized multitudes, ordained clergy to preside over them, instituted monks, gave alms to the poor of the provinces, made presents to the kings, educated children to serve at the altar, held councils, founded monasteries, restored health to the sick, sight to the blind, raised dead persons to life, continued his missions during forty years, and died at Down in Ulster, where he was buried. Such in brief, is Alban Butler's account, who assigns the year 464, for a period wherein he lived.

Ribadeneira affirms it, as a most famous miracle, and well known to the whole world, that St. Patrick did so free Ireland of all venomous beasts, that none could ever since breed or live there, and that even the very wood has a virtue against poison, "so that it is reported of king's college, Cambridge, that being built of Irish wood, no spider doth ever come near it."

Jocelin, a Cistercian monk of Furnes in the twelfth century, wrote "The Life and Acts of St. Patrick," wherein he relates many extraordinary particulars, of which the few that follow are specimens: St. Patrick when a child in winter time brought home some pieces of ice, his nurse told him he had better have brought home wood, whereupon he heaped together the ice, and prayed, and the ice immediately became a bonfire. After this his foster-father died, and to relieve his nurse's distress, St. Patrick prayed, signed him with the sign of the cross, and so restored him to life. Then by the same sign he freed a cow from an evil spirit; recovered five cows she had wounded; and, by the same means, when his nurse was ill and longed for honey, he "immediately changed water into the best honey." At another time, when she was commanded to clean out some filthy stables, St. Patrick prayed, and they were cleaned without hands. Then St. Patrick himself was carried into slavery, and sold for a kettle; but the kettle being placed on the fire, the hotter the fire burned, the colder became the kettle; whereupon the seller of St. Patrick returned the kettle, took St. Patrick back, and the vessel was restored to its wonted power of boiling. St. Patrick desiring to eat meat, obtained some pork, and having concealed it for a convenient season, presently he saw a man with eyes before and eyes behind, and asked him why he was so formed; the seer answered, "I am the servant of God; with the eyes in my forehead I see things open to view, with my eyes behind I see a monk hiding flesh meat in a vessel to satisfy his appetite privately." Then the seer vanished. St. Patrick repented, prayed for pardon, besought for a sign that he had it, was told by an angel to put the pork into water, did as the angel bid him, and the pork "immediately became fishes." Having journeyed into Britain, he saw a leper whom mariners would not carry in their ship, whereon St. Patrick took a stone altar consecrated by the pope, cast it into the sea, caused the leper to sit on it, and the leper immediately set sail on the stone, kept company with the ship all the voyage, and got into port with her at the same time. St. Patrick, returning to Ireland, on approaching the shore, saw a multitude of devils in the form of a globe surrounding the whole island, when he "raised his sacred right hand, made the sign of the cross, and, unhurt and unterrified, passed he over." Some fishermen in the county of Leinster, drawing their nets from a river loaded with fish, St. Patrick asked them for some; they refused him; he cursed them, and the river; and from that day the river never produced a fish. Once when the chief king of Ireland ordered his subjects to prevent St. Patrick from landing, they set a fierce dog at him, whereupon the dog stiffened like a stone; then a gigantic man brandished his sword at the saint, the man stiffened likewise, but repented, and St. Patrick unstiffened him, and baptized him. An old man, would not believe St. Patrick's preaching. St. Patrick asked him whether he would be persuaded by a miracle; the old man said he would, then St. Patrick prayed, laid his hand on him, "and immediately the old man became beautiful and young, and flourished again, as in his early youth," and was so made to believe. Having converted Mochna, a virtuous swineherd, while they were conversing together, a staff from heaven fell between them, which St. Patrick gave to Mochna for a pastoral staff, consecrated him bishop of Edrum, "and the staff is in that church still preserved, and called the flying staff."

St. Patrick's nephew, St. Lumanus, being desirous of taking a journey by sea when wind and tide were against him, he hoisted the sails, trusted in the merits of St. Patrick, and, "O, miracle till then unheard and unknown! the ship, without any pilot, sailed against wind and stream," and he made a prosperous voyage. At another time, St. Patrick seeing a hundred men unable to stir a large stone, he, alone, raised it up, and placed it where it was wanted. He was accustomed to stop and erect a cross at the head-stone of every christian who was buried outside of a burial-place; one day, coming to the graves of two men newly buried, and observing that one of the graves only had a cross over it, he stopped his chariot, and speaking to the dead man below, asked him what religion he had been, the dead man answered a pagan, St. Patrick inquired why then a cross was put over him, the dead pagan replied, he who is buried near me was a christian, and one of your faith coming hither placed the cross at my head; the saint stepped out of his chariot, rectified the mistake, and went his way. One Foylge, an idolator, strangled the driver of St. Patrick's chariot, in his seat, wherefore the saint cast his "holy curse" at Foylge, who pierced thereby, fell dead into hell; but the devil entering the dead body, walked about in it, and seemed as if he were Foylge himself, till one day St. Patrick called at the dead man's house, and asking the family where Foylge was, they answered he was at home, when the saint told them of Foylge's death, and that Satan "had entered into his corplse and occupied it as his own proper vessel," then St. Patrick gave notice to the devil to leave his lodging in Foylge's body, which he did immediately, and Foylge was buried. Preaching on a journey to 14,000 men, "he first fed them all with spiritual food," then commanding a cow to be killed, with two stags, and a couple of boars, the people ate abundantly, the remnants were gathered up; and "thus with the flesh of five animals, did St. Patrick plenteously feed 14,000 men." Once when he was preaching, by way of a strong argument, he raised to life nineteen dead men, one of whom had been buried for ten years. After that, St. Patrick passing over a river one of his teeth dropped into the water, and his disciples could not find it till night, when the tooth in the river shone as a radiant star, and being so discovered was brought to St. Patrick, who on that spot built a church, and deposited his tooth beneath the altar. Desiring to pass an impassable river, and no boat being at hand, St. Patrick prayed, and dividing the river, made himself and followers a free passage, then "he blessed the river, and being so blessed, it abounded in fishes above all others." St. Mel being denounced unjustly to St. Patrick, and preferring to prove his innocence by a miracle rather than by an oath, he ploughed up the earth on a certain hill, and took by the ploughshare many and large fishes out of the dry land; thereupon St. Patrick absolved him, but lest St. Mel should continue to work miracles presumptuously, "he bade him that he should thenceforth plough on the land and fish in the water." St. Patrick had a goat, a thief stole it, and ate it, and when accused, denied it; but the goat bleating in the stomach of the thief, proclaimed the merit of St. Patrick; and, to increase the miracle, by the sentence of the saint, all the posterity of the man were marked with the beard of a goat. St. Patrick having laboured to convert a tyrant, who laughed him to scorn, he immediately converted the tyrant, against his will, into a fox; which fox went off with a hard run, and could never be found. Another time being benighted in the open air, violent rain fell around St. Patrick and his companions, but did not wet them a drop. On the same night, the driver of his chariot could not for the darkness find the horses to re-yoke them, on which St. Patrick, drawing his right hand from his sleeve, and lifting up his fingers, they "shone even as sun-beams, and wonderfully illumining the whole country, turned darkness into light, and night into day—then by the aid of the radiant miracle, the chariot-driver found his steed." After the death of St. Patrick, there was no night for twelve days.

These are some of the miracles attributed to St. Patrick by Jocelin, whose life of him published in "Dublin, Printed for the Hibernia Press Company, By James Blyth," is sold in London by Messrs. Keating and Brown, Catholic Printers and Publishers, No. 38, Duke-street, Grosvenor-square, in one volume 12mo. containing 264 pages, price 2s. 6d. in boards.

To what extent Catholics believe such miracles, as have been just related is unknown to a Protestant; but the publication of Jocelin's works by catholic booksellers in a cheap form, seems to signify that it is held in repute by Catholics in a humble rank of life. To what extent the catholic clergy have instructed this class of their flocks, or rather to what extent they design to instruct them, is also unknown to a protestant; but should the higher classes of catholics enjoy the civil rights, which the most wise and enlightened of the Protestant fellow-subjects deplore they do not possess, and most anxiously desire they should possess, it is not too much to hope that it will become the anxious wish, as it is the positive duty of the catholic clergy to inform the ignorant of their community. An union between the church of England, or any other protestant church, and the church of Rome, never can take place; but protestant churchmen, and Protestants of all denominations, can and will unite with Catholics, if Catholics can and will unite with them, to enlighten the Egyptian darkness, which enslaves the mind worse than Egyptian bondage. The education of helpless infancy, and the fixation of just principles in youth, form the best security against criminal manhood. In this, surely, both Protestants and Catholics will concur, and their earnest cooperation to obtain this security will be a firm pledge that each desires the welfare of each. The marked separation of churches and doctrines cannot much longer separate man from man. In the bigotted and selfish interests that dam the social affections, there are incurable and daily widening breaches: the issues alternate and vary, but the first high tide of mutual kindness will burst the restrictions, and sweep them away for ever[.]

St. Patrick's Day.

This being the anniversary of the day whereon St. Patrick died, it is comemorated as a high festival in the catholic church; and it is celebrated to his honour in that country, with every demonstration of affection for his memory as the apostle and patron saint of Ireland, that a warm-hearted, enthusiastic, joyous people, can possibly express. An eye-witness represents to the editor of the Every-Day Book that St. Patrick's day in Dublin is a scene of festivity and mirth unequalled by any thing observable in this country. From the highest to the lowest, all hearts seem inspired by the saint's beneficence. At day-break flags fly on the steeples, and the bells ring out incessant peals till midnight. The rich bestow their benevolence on the poor, and the poor bestow their blessings on the rich, and on each other, and on the blessed St. Patrick. The "Green immortal" shamrock is in every hat. Sports of manly exercise exhibit the capabilities of the celebrated "shillelah," and before night many a head gives token of the application of its wonderful powers, by a muscular hand. Priestly care soothes querulousness; laughter drowns casualty; innumerable bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked, jaunty lasses dance with their mirth-loving lads; old women run about with children in the hoods of their cloaks, to publicly share care-drowning cups of sweet consolation with each other; and by the union of wit, humour, and frolic, this miraculous day is prolonged till after the morning dawn.

A popular song on this festal occasion contains these verses:

St. Patrick's, the holy and tutelar man;
His beard down his bosom like Aaron's ran:
Some from Scotland, from Wales, will declare that he came,
But I care not from whence now he's risen to fame:—
The pride of the world and his enemies scorning,
I will drink to St. Patrick, to-day, in the morning!

He's a desperate big, little Erin go brah;
He will pardon our follies and promise us joy.
By the mass, by the Pope, by St. Patrick, so long
As I live, I will give him a beautiful song!
No saint is so good, Ireland's country adorning;
Then hail to St. Patrick, to-day, in the morning!

In London St. Patrick's day is observed at court as a high festival, and the nobility crowd to pay their compliments in honour of Ireland's tutelar saint. For many years it has been selected as an occasion for soliciting and obtaining aid to a great national object—the promotion of education. It is the anniversary of the "Benevolent Society of St. Patrick," for clothing and educating children of Irish parents who need to assistance, by voluntary contribution. The festival is attended by Irishmen of different political parties and religious persuasions, and many of the highest rank. On this anniversary, in 1825, the marquess of Londonderry was in the chair, with the duke of Leinster on his right and the marquess of Lansdown at his left hand: several of the king's ministers and nobility were present. The report stated, that 400 children were educated in the school, the funds admitted of only 240 being clothed, the rest were suppled with shirts, shoes, and stockings; and the committee earnestly invited inspection of the schools from nine till two every day, except on the sabbath and Monday. A donation to the charity, from his majesty of 100 guineas, was followed by others, and by hopes that absent Irishmen and Englishmen who could, would cheerfully contribute towards an institution which on its merits required general support. Speeches from the chairman and noble guests, the chancellor of the exchequer, Mr. O'Connell, Mr. Huskisson, and other distinguished characters, breathed sentiments of universal good will, and must have inspired every individual to kindness, and desire of extending, and cementing, the conciliation so happily commenced between the people of both countries.

It is related that during the dinner, the party at the head table were much amused by a bottle of genuine (illegal) poteen, neat as imported from the emerald isle, being handed to the chancellor of the exchequer, who, forgetting the good of the revenue in the memory of St. Patrick, put a portion of the naughty liqueur in his glass, and drank it with becoming devotion.

In the forenoon of the same day, the festival was celebrated at the Roman catholic chapel in Sutton-street, Soho, with an unusual degree of splendour. The archbishop of Armagh in his mitre and pontifical robes, officiated as high-priest, assisted by the two English catholic bishops, Poynter and Branston, and one of the Irish bishops, and several of the minor clergy. A selection of music, chiefly from Haydn's masses, was powerfully performed by a very numerous choir, accompanied by a full band; and after a sermon by Dr. Poynter, a collection was made, to the amount of £65., to assist the chapel and the schools attached to it.

Order of St. Patrick.

In February, 1783, letters patent created a brotherhood denominated "Knights of the illustrious order of St. Patrick," to consist of the sovereign for the time being, as sovereign of the order; and fifteen knights companions, the "lieutenant-general and general governor of Ireland, or the lord deputy or deputies, or lord's justices, or other chief governor or governors" for the time being, officiating as deputy grand masters. The statutes of the order of St. Patrick direct the badge to be of gold, surmounted with a wreath of shamrock or trefoil, surrounding a circle of gold, bearing the motto of the order in gold letters, Quis separabit? with the date MDCCLXXXIII, wherein the order was founded, and encircling the cross of St. Patrick gules, surmounted with a trefoil vert, each leaf charged with an imperial crown or, upon a field argent; the badge, encircled with rays in form of a star of silver of eight points, four greater and four lesser, worn on the left side of the outer garment.

The Shamrock.

The shamrock is the trefoil. The Druids used it to cure diseases. The Irish use it as a national cognizance. It is said that when St. Patrick landed near Wicklow to convert the Irish in 433, the pagan inhabitants were ready to stone him; he requested to be heard, and endeavoured to explain God to them as the Trinity in Unity, but they could not understand him, till plucking a trefoil from the ground, he said, "Is it not as possible for the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as for these leaves, to grow upon a single stalk," then the Irish were immediately convinced.* [1]

St. Patrick.

The Welch claim St. Patrick. Mr. Owen in his "Cambrian Biography" affirms, he was born at Aberllychwr in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, where there is a church dedicated to him. They call him Padrig, the son of Mawrn or Maenwyn, of the laird of Gwyr. Mr. Owen cites from the genealogy of the British saints, that, "It was the glory of the emperor Theodosius, in conjunction with Cystonnin Llydaw, surnamed the blessed, to have first founded the college of Illtyd, which was regulated by Balerus, a man from Rome; and Padrig, son of Mawrn, was the principal of it, before he was carried away a captive by the Irishman." In corroboration, Mr. Owen says, it is recorded in the history of Wales, "that the Irish were enabled to settle themselves along nearly the whole extent of its coast, in the beginning of the fifth century, and continued there until nearly the middle of the same era; when they were expelled from the north by the natives, assisted by the sons of Cunedda, and from the south with the aid of Urien." Thus Wales contends for the honour of the birth-place of Patrick with Scotland, while Ireland has the honour of the saint himself.

A London Bull.

The "Athenæum" affirms the following to be a literal transcript of a letter sent to a gentleman, who had recommended a patient to that excellent institution called the London Electrical Dispensary:

          "To Mr. G——
"No. 5081.

"Having by your recommendation been received a patient at the London Electrical Dispensary, and being discharged this day dead, I beg leave to return my humble and hearty thanks for the same.
          "March 7, 1810."

Except the No., date, and the word dead, which are written, all the rest of the letter is printed.


Sweet Violet. Viola odorata.
Dedicated to St. Gertrude.
Shamrock. Trifolium repens.
Dedicated to St. Patrick.


Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated.]:

1. Brand's Pop. Antiquities. [return]