Thursday, 17 March 2011

St Patrick's Day Greetings to all Nigerians

For those who don't know me, I am Welsh with a bit of Irish thrown in for good measure (the best bit as my local postmaster keeps reminding me).

So today I have lots of reasons to celebrate St Patrick.

It's not known from which area the young Welshman was taken circa the age of 16. It may have been Wales as we know it today, it may have been from the Welsh kingdom of Strathclyde or somewhere in-between.

Other Saints and holy men went to Ireland before and after Patrick, yet it is Patrick the young Welsh shepherd and slave that we remember.

The Welsh retained the Faith that the Romans had brought, even after the Empire fell, took it to Ireland, where the monasticism of Patrick spread. Years later that monasticism was re-introduced to Europe proper, and post-Reformation, the Catholic Faith was re-introduced to Britain by the waves of Irish settlers who came here, including my own grandfather.

So, we have:

  • The Romans convert the Britons/Welsh (Welsh being old Saxon for foreigner/Roman) to Roman Catholicism.
  • St Patrick the Welshman takes the Catholic Faith and Monasticism to the Irish.
  • The Irish take Monasticism to Mainland Europe to reinvigorate the whole Catholic Church even to its heartlands in France and Italy.
  • The Irish come to Wales (and England) to reinforce the few native Catholics (recusants) left after penal laws etc.

It's almost like a large wonderful circle of history. If those Romans hadn't converted the Welsh, and St Patrick hadn't converted the Irish, I may not be a Welsh Catholic today.

So lift a glass to St Patrick, the Welsh-Irishman. I know it's Lent (and I know you have all been keeping your Lenten fast!), but we are allowed an exemption for special Feast Days. I'm sure St Patrick knew this when his number was called on the 17th of March (subsequent calendar changes notwithstanding), which just goes to show he must have been well acclimatised with the natives by then.
Nigerian Bishops: "Hey! It's our day too."

Let me close by asking you to say a prayer for Nigeria and her people.

You see, Nigeria's Patron Saint is St Patrick, so it must be tough for them as I bet nobody ever thinks of Nigeria on St Patrick's Day (apart from Nigerians of course).

So a big cheer for the Nigerians, and a polite clap for the Irish.

As the natives might say: Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! (ban-ock-tee na fay-lah paw-rig ur-iv), St Patrick's Day Blessing Upon You.

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