"Ireland Forever!" Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
Saint Patrick—spelled Pádraig in Irish—was born to a Christian family in "Roman Britain" in 387 AD. At the time, the island of Britain was nearly-totally occupied by Roman forces. Though his father was a deacon, Patrick was not religious or particularly faithful. As he wrote in his autobiographical Confessio, as a young teenager he was abducted by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. He was made a shepherd and had plenty of time alone (with the sheep) to pray and contemplate his faith. He grew in his love of God, despite Ireland's hostility to the Christian faith (which was populated with Druids and Pagans).
At the age of 20, he had a dream that if he were to escape his master and make his way to the sea, a boat would be waiting to take him back to England. He took the chance and, indeed, found sailors who ferried him back to Britain where he, after a long journey, was reunited with his family.
Patrick had another vision which motivated him to study for the priesthood and return to Ireland to evangelize. In 433, he returned to the Emerald Isle—which was still a dangerous place for missionaries. Nevertheless, enduring poverty, hardship and potential martyrdom, Patrick travelled throughout Ireland converting Pagans, teaching the Gospels, and building churches. Legend tells us that he used the shamrock to explain the Trinity.
Patrick died in 461 and is reportedly buried in Down Cathedral, Northern Ireland (next to Saints Brigid and Columba). Today he is known as the "Apostle of Ireland" and one of the country's patron saints. Interestingly, Patrick was never officially canonized by the Catholic Church. For the first 1000 years after Christ, the saints were recognized (and venerated) on a local or regional level—not through the rigorous papal process of today. Nevertheless, Saint Patrick is still venerated by the church at large and today is his feast day—a Holy Day of Obligation in Ireland.
The green monks, shown above, are green-glazed ceramic Arts & Crafts bookends. Made by Cowan in the 1910's, they can be found by clicking on the photo above.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
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