Those were the words my grandfather would repeat to me without fail each and every St. Patrick’s Day. He wasn’t trying to make a point, he was just proud that he knew something about our heritage and was pleased to pass the knowledge along to me.
When you see or think of St. Patty’s Day, you think green. We wear green. We eat green things. But what the majority of folks today don’t know, is that Green was the color of the Flag for Irish Catholics and Orange was the color of the Protestant flag. And yes, we were orange. (We came from County Cork.)
In addition, most people have no idea that the original St. Pat was not a Leprechaun who danced in clover but rather was an actual son of wealthy British parents that lived in the 4th century.
At sixteen, Patrick was taken prisoner by Irish raiders that attacked his family’s estate. The bandits took Patrick to the Island of Ireland where he spent his captivity working as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. During this time, he discovered Christ and developed a strong faith. Apparently, he began to have dreams of winning the Irish to Christianity.
After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. Actual writings of his still exist and they state that, a voice-which he believed to be God’s-spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland.
So, Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he saw a second vision, an angel in a dream, that told him to return to Ireland as a missionary.
Patrick studied the faith for more than fifteen years. And after he became an ordained priest, he was sent to Ireland. His mission? To minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish.
So there you have it.
Happy St. Patty’s Day. And Long live the Orange!