Who was St Patrick and why do we celebrate him? A priest explains
PUBLISHED: 11:00 17 March 2019
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Wanstead's Christian worshippers are gearing up to take a brief respite from their Lenten abstinence as they mark St Patrick's Day with wine and jazz this weekend.
The Recorder spoke with Rev Canon Ann Clark, of Wanstead Parish, to find out more about who Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was and why Christians across the world celebrate his legacy with drinking and partying every March 17.
She explains: “Patrick was a Romano-Briton born around 390 to a Christian family.
“At 16 years old he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and carried off into slavery to Ireland.
“After six years he escaped and found his way to the continent.
“Later he returned to Britain where his Christian faith developed and he was ordained as a priest in Gaul.”
She spoke of Patrick as a humble and forgiving man who believed in teamwork and who described himself as an “unlearned sinner”.
His willingness to turn the other cheek was exemplified when he decided, in his early 40s, to return to Ireland to teach his faith and forgive those who had enslaved him.
“He baptised thousands of people and established hundreds of churches,” she said.
“He never gave up even when he suffered terrible persecution.
“He was passionate about his faith, especially the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, using a shamrock to explain God, who is three yet one.”
Statues and paintings of St Patrick often depict him holding a shamrock with his foot on a snake.
This stems from the legend that he rid Ireland of snakes.
Wanstead Parish invite worshippers to mark St Patrick’s Day at Christ Church, in Wanstead Place, with Jazz Vespers on Sunday, March 17.
These services see a traditional liturgy become interspersed with jazz numbers performed by professional musicians by candlelight and, on this occasion, will have a Celtic theme.
“This gives a chance [for worshippers] to ease the Lenten abstinence with the consumption of alcohol and partying,” she said.
They will be joined Christians of all traditions across the world, who typically mark the day with parades, carnivals and other revelries.