Who Was Saint Patrick And Did He Wear Green, Orange, Or Black?

Green, orange or black you say?  This is quite peculiar, indeed.   Most people do associate Saint Patrick’s Day with the color green.  But simply by observation,  increasingly more popular as the tradition grows, there are some who wear the color orange to signify this celebratory day.   The myth for this relies on the notion that those who wear orange are Protestant.  The “greens” shall be the Catholics.   The accuracy of the third option lies totally within your creative interpretation as to who will be wearing the black, and might Saint Patrick have chosen this for himself.

As we delve deeper for more items for discussion, be it fact or fable, let’s talk about basic black.   Although it might be an old wives tale, or a fun and trendy phenomenon among teens, growing up Italian when I was young, the Italians wore black on Saint Patrick’s Day.  I cannot explain this practice, nor can I find any documentation to substantiate this claim, but nonetheless, I remember doing it.  If there is someone in my audience that can bear witness to this custom, or explain the purpose, I welcome you to share.

In any case, I do have my theories.  First of all, basic black, you can’t go wrong with it!  Secondly, historical writings provide us with knowledge that Saint Patrick was actually born to Roman parents, Calphurnius and Conchessa Succat and his true name was Maewyn Succat.   By a process of association to his heritage or cumulative comparisons, perhaps Italians felt the need to make a statement on the true legacy of this man.  What better color to display than the one color so populated by Italians!  We all know how we adore black, and what better way to strike up the conversation about the history of Saint Patrick and the patron saint we all know and love.

The Succats were living in England when Maewyn was born, and lived a very affluent life. There were many feuds and uprisings to establish territorial boundaries during this time in history around 400 A.D.  It is believed that around that time tribal kings in Ireland captured thousands as prisoners, and Maewyn was among them at the age of 15 years old.

In his new environment in Ireland, Maewyn was placed as a shepherd slave, minding the sheep and pigs; not exactly the life you would expect for the son of a Roman diplomat.  But after 6 long years of hardship, he escaped the thrall of injustice and headed back to England.  Upon arriving there, as the Roman Empire had fallen, he found complete devastation.  It was there and then that he discovered that he really had no life to return to, and found solace in the church.

For many years Maewyn prayed and became closer to God, and soon joined the priesthood.  It was during his tenure in France that he was inducted by the Pope and named Bishop Patricius.  Soon his path would lead him back to Ireland to do great things.  He demonstrated the necessity of churches and schools and was the principal in developing these facilities.  Serving as a missionary to convert Ireland to Christianity, Patrick’s purpose there would last thirty years.

In remembering the teachings of Saint Patrick pay close attention to the analogy of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as it relates to the 3 petals of a Shamrock.  It is appropriately considered the symbol of Ireland, and eloquently serves as a reminder of the great strides Saint Patrick made for the Irish.   His messages are clear, and we hold them sacred all over the world.

Saint Patrick’s Day and all its tradition bring us together as one.   Irish, Italian, and colors of green, orange, or black; it’s what compliments our individuality but makes us all the same.

In the spirit of the day, let me share with you my favorite Irish recipe  – baked by an Italian through and through!


2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons brown sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

2 beaten eggs, used separately

¾ cup of buttermilk

½ cup of raisins

Combine 1 egg, raisins and buttermilk and let sit for a few minutes.  In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and ¼ teaspoon of salt.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture.  Stir just until moistened.  On a floured surface, knead gently for 12 strokes.  On a greased baking sheet shape dough into a 6-inch loaf.  Cut a 4 inch cross ¼ inch deep on the top.  Brush with 1 beaten egg.

Bake in a 375° oven about 35 minutes or until golden.  Cool on rack.  Wrap in wax paper and serve the next day!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

Luck O The Irish

Luck O The Irish

Send your favorite Irish lad or lassie a gift basket for the celebration!


Published in: on March 9, 2010 at 4:05 AM  Comments (1)  

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