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Sunday, March 13, 2016

St. Patrick: A Saint for All

What better way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day than to visit Ireland. For those of you who don't have a plane ticket to Ireland in their budget (that's me! :), take a quick trip to Ireland through Cindy Thomson's guest blogpost below.

St. Patrick: A Saint For All
By Cindy Thomson

After my two trips to Ireland, I found it interesting that there are more sites historically linked to St. Patrick in Northern Ireland than in the Republic, and yet St. Patrick’s Day is more widely observed in the Republic than it is in Northern Ireland.

If Patrick is considered to be a Catholic saint, then perhaps that makes sense. The Republic of Ireland is about 84% Catholic as opposed to Northern Ireland’s 48%. But as The Saint Patrick Centre in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, points out, Patrick reaches across both Catholic and Protestant traditions. Patrick was born in the late 4th century somewhere in Britain. He was kidnapped and brought to Ireland to work as a slave. Sometime later he escaped, went back to Britain, and studied in the church. The manner in which he decided to return to Ireland, and thus Christianize the island, is the stuff of legends.

From my book, Celtic Wisdom:

            One night a man named Victoricus visited him in a dream, bearing many letters from Ireland, much the way Old Testament figures received angelic messages from God. This vision gave one of the letters to Patrick that read, “The Voice the Irish.” Immediately Patrick heard the voices of those he’d known in Ireland crying out together, “We beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk again among us.” Later confirmation came in another dream when Patrick heard the words coming from “within me or beside me, saying, ‘He who gave his life for you, he it is who speaks within you.’”
            And so Patrick returned to his place of prior enslavement.

Patrick belongs to both Britain and Ireland, and he lived when there was only one church. Thus it is the mission of the Saint Patrick Centre to unite people using the story of Patrick. Visit them online here:

Downpatrick is one my favorite places. My ancestors lived there before immigrating to America in the 18th century. On the grounds of Downpatrick Cathedral you will find the burial place of St. Patrick, along with the other two patron saints of Ireland, St. Brigid and St. Columcille. There are other sites in Northern Ireland where it is believed St. Patrick traveled. A driving trail covering 92 miles and 15 sites has been marked out for visitors. You can learn more about it here:

I’ve been to many of these sites, and few in the Republic of Ireland also attributed to the patron saint. I find his story inspires me to find the common ground when I encounter people of different religions and cultures. There is so much more to celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day than green beer and parades, at least for me.

Cindy Thomson is the author of seven books, including her newest novel, Sofia’s Tune, the third book in her Ellis Island series. She is the author of Brigid of Ireland—a novel about the saint—and is at work on the sequel, Pages of Ireland. She also writes genealogy articles for Internet Genealogy and Your Genealogy Today magazines, and short stories for Clubhouse Magazine. Visit her at, on Facebook at and on Twitter: @cindyswriting

Read Post 4 in the St. Patrick's Day Series:
Read Post 3 in the St. Patrick's Day Series:

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