I used to find it a bit odd that a nation founded primarily by Anglo-Saxon Brits, reserves its greatest ethnic celebration for the Irish (apologies to Columbus and his progeny). That was before I channeled my inner-Irish roots, thanks primarily to the book, “Born Fighting” by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA).
I had long known, thanks to my Decatur, Alabama uncle’s post-“Roots” mid-70s TV mini-series family tree investigations, that we DeVines were Irish. The biggest pub in Dublin used to be named DeVine’s and legend has it that DeVines were Normans that fought with William the Conqueror (of the British Isles in 1066), discovered whiskey and became Irish. We are not shocked that the first and best (only?) French that could fight became Irish!, but I digress…
But it was only after Webb’s 2004 book, sub-titled “How the Scots-Irish Shaped America” did I come to fully appreciate my heritage, this despite my long admiration for my first great ethnic brother from my home state of South Carolina, Andrew Jackson. Growing up in the South, race and region were more of a defining reference than ethnicity, and when asked about my name or herirage, I usually gave a famous Archie Bunker response that I was just “a regular American” which I still consider the greatest privilege this side of Paradise (more on that later from the Saint we celebrate today).
I am thrilled that I now appreciate that the contributions of the Irish have not only shaped America, but saved the world. The Irish have been preservers of Judeo-Christian values and the greatest volunteers for military service, especially evn those that lost the War between the States. Without the Irish, it is likely that America would not have remained the Shining City on a Hill, as possibly the greatest Irish-American, Ronald Reagan so often referred to her. And certainly, the Light of Liberty from that City would not have shone on those the Kaiser, Nazis and Communists sought to enslave.
But the Patron Saint of Ireland (pictured holding a shamrock), did more than just drive snakes from his country and inspire the people that would later fight against earthly powers. No, the real snakes driven away by the former Roman slave, were serpents of Satan.
The real reason there is a Saint Patrick’s Day, is because of all the days he spent preaching the gospel of Christ to convert a nation to the Lord:
On Easter Day the missionary band having at their head the youth Benignus bearing aloft a copy of the Gospels, and followed by St. Patrick who with mitre and crozier was arrayed in full episcopal attire, proceeded in processional order to Tara. The druids and magicians put forth all their strength and employed all their incantations to maintain their sway over the Irish race, but the prayer and faith of Patrick achieved a glorious triumph. The druids by their incantations overspread the hill and surrounding plain with a cloud of worse than Egyptian darkness.
Patrick defied them to remove that cloud, and when all their efforts were made in vain, at his prayer the sun sent forth its rays and the brightest sunshine lit up the scene. Again by demoniac power the Arch-Druid Lochru, like Simon Magus of old, was lifted up high in the air, but when Patrick knelt in prayer the druid from his flight was dashed to pieces upon a rock.
Thus was the final blow given to paganism in the presence of all the assembled chieftains. It was, indeed, a momentous day for the Irish race.
Read the link above for the full life story of the man turned on the light of civilization among pagans and transformed a nation that helped save a world, but more importantly, as a Christian, saved souls for the next world, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost (the three leaves of the shamrock is his symbol for the Holy Trinity).
And before ye begin the celebration, I am sure Saint Patrick would admonish moderation in all things (incl whiskey)!
Mike DeVine’s Charlotte Observer, Examiner.com and Minority Report columns
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson
Originally published by Mike DeVine, Legal Editor for The Minority Report