March 17 is widely celebrated as St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick according to the Roman Catholics, is the patron saint of Ireland, the Emerald Island. And so it is, green has come to be associated with St. Patrick. Many adults use this occasion to engage in reveling and drinking, green beer and whiskey being the accepted way to celebrate Irish history.
In times gone by, canonizations were carried out on a regional level, meaning that Patrick has never officially been canonized by a Pope although he is included on the list of Saints. The feast day was only officially placed on the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar in the early 1600s.
St. Patrick’s Day, feast day (March 17) of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. Born in the late 4th century, he was kidnapped at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. He escaped but returned about 432 ce to convert the Irish to the true biblical faith. By the time of his death on March 17, 461, he had established several churches, and schools. Many legends grew up around him although not all are true.
The Truth of history however is not well known. St. Patrick was not Irish, but a Scottish missionary to Ireland instead. He was not a Sunday keeping Roman Catholic Trinitarian, but a Sabbath-keeper who was opposed to the Trinity concept. Seventh Day Baptists have long been aware of the facts concerning St. Patrick. The book, Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America (1910), reports that the Christianity in Ireland was founded soon after the death of Yeshua the Messiah by disciples of the Asian Churches.
It was emigrants, particularly to the United States who transformed St. Patrick’s Day into a largely secular holiday of revelry and celebration of things Irish. Cities with large numbers of Irish immigrants, who often wielded political power, staged the most extensive celebrations, which included elaborate parades. Boston held its first St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1737, followed by New York City in 1762. Since 1962 Chicago has colored its river green to mark the holiday. (Although blue was the color traditionally associated with St. Patrick, green is now commonly connected with the day.) Irish and non-Irish alike commonly participate in the “wearing of the green” sporting an item of green clothing or a shamrock, the Irish national plant, in the lapel.
Columba’s planting of a Sabbath-keeping community in the island of Iona was the result of Patrick’s ministry. Celtic Ireland was unattached to Rome until no earlier than 1155. Some Irish Sabbath-keepers remained until the nineteenth century. According to the Seventh-day Adventist historian, Leslie Hardinge, in his book “The Celtic Church in Britain”, Patrick (ca. 387-463) evangelized Ireland, and founded over 300 churches and baptized over 120,000 converts.
However, Christianity existed in Ireland long before Patrick’s time. Many Celtic believers in Ireland were Arians (anti-Trinitarian). They kept the Sabbath from sundown to sundown (Friday sunset to Saturday Sunset). They were known to be Quartodecimans, observers of the annual Biblical Passover once a year, on the fourteenth day of the first month in the spring (Nisan 14 on the biblical calendar). They also eschewed unclean meats. Their ministry had to be recognized, even by outsiders, to be honest and above reproach, and celibacy was not practiced until later times. Celtic services included reciting the Decalogue.
Wherever Patrick went, he left an old Celtic law book, Liber ex Lege Moisi (Book of the Law of Moses), as well as other books of the Gospel. The Liber begins with the Decalogue, and continues with selections from the Torah. Citing Exodus 23:1-19, Part 4 of the Liber emphasizes that the Sabbath is to be kept, along with three annual feasts. Part 5 notes that according to Exodus 31:13, the Sabbath is a sign of God’s people. Patrick practiced laying on of hands after baptism so the person would receive the Holy Spirit. While “St. Patrick” is revered as a Roman Catholic saint, his writings appear to place him squarely in the Sabbath-keeping Messianic community as being Torah Pursuant.
Green is the color of the Irish; green is also the color of the Sabbath. Green invokes feelings of abundant crops and peace, which the Sabbath day pictures and exemplifies. Historically, Irish Celtic Sabbath-keepers have played a major role in the preservation of the practice of Sabbath-keeping in continental Europe and beyond. Celtic Irish missionaries evangelized Europe during the Dark Ages. So, the next time someone asks you on St. Patrick’s Day if you are wearing green, tell them, “Yes! I keep the seventh day Sabbath, just like Patrick of Ireland did!” Let us continue to wear the green.