Fantasy and fact about Ireland's St. Pat This Sunday...

March 14, 2002|By Tricia Bishop

Fantasy and fact about Ireland's St. Pat

This Sunday, millions of Americans will don their best green gear, brush up on their Celtic brogue and become Irish for a day in celebration of the Emerald Isle's patron saint, Patrick. This you already knew. And, of course, you are acquainted with tales of temperamental leprechauns and the luck-delivering capacity of a four-leaf clover. But did you know St. Patrick wasn't even Irish?

Born sometime in the late fourth century, St. Patrick (originally named Maewyn Succat, historians think) spent his first 16 years in Britain. He ended up in Ireland only because he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and sold into slavery.

After six years of working as a shepherd and honing his religious faith, he escaped, eventually returned to Britain and later became a priest (he was ordained as Patricius). Many years after, he returned on his own to Ireland and earned fame and adulation as the missionary who converted the pagan Irish to Christianity. March 17, St. Patrick's Day, is believed to be either the date of the saint's birth or his death.

The Enoch Pratt Central Library celebrates the fantasy and fun Americans associate with the holiday by exploring the legends and dances of Ireland on Saturday. Free tickets are required. Meet in the library's Children's Garden. 2 p.m., 400 Cathedral St., 410-396-5430.

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