St. Patrick's Extraordinary Life

Captured by Irish raiders and take as a slave when he was around 16 years old, St. Patrick's day is based on an amazing man in history. 

Born in Britain to wealthy parents, at (about) 16 years old he was taken prisoner by Irish raiders who were attacking his parents estate, sold into slavery, where he then worked as a shepherd. During his years of slavery, it is believed that he turned to his religion for solace and began to desire to convert the Irish people.  He recounts how his faith grew, here are his words recorded in a letter called 'the Confessio'

"But after I reached Hibernia I used to pasture the flock each day and I used to pray many times a day. More and more did the Love of God, and my fear of Him and faith increase, and my spirit was moved so that in a day [I said] from one up to a hundred prayers, and in the night a like number; besides I used to stay out in the forests and on the mountain and I would wake up before daylight to pray in the snow, in icy coldness, in rain, and I used to feel neither ill nor any slothfulness, because, as I now see, the Spirit was burning in me at that time". 
After 6 years of captivity he recorded a dream in which he believes God's voice told him to leave Ireland.
"And it was there of course that one night in my sleep I heard a voice saying to me: "You do well to fast: soon you will depart for your home country." And again, a very short time later, there was a voice prophesying: "Behold, your ship is ready." And it was not close by, but, as it happened, two hundred miles away, where I had never been nor knew any person. And shortly thereafter I turned about and fled from the man with whom I had been for six years, and I came, by the power of God who directed my route to advantage (and I was afraid of nothing), until I reached that ship."
After he walked 200 miles to the Irish coast to reach that ship, he records this reaction from those on the ship:
"And on the same day that I arrived, the ship was setting out from the place, and I said that I had not the wherewithal to sail with them; and the steersman was displeased and replied in anger, sharply: "By no means attempt to go with us." Hearing this I left them to go to the hut where I was staying, and on the way I began to pray, and before the prayer was finished I heard one of them shouting loudly after me: "Come quickly because the men are calling you." And immediately I went back to them and they started to say to me: "Come, because we are admitting you out of good faith; make friendship with us in any way you wish." 
Once again in Britain he records he had another dream of an angel telling him to return to Ireland as a missionary:
"I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: "The Voice of the Irish". As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: "We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.
He studied for 15years to became a priest and then as a priest was sent to Ireland again with the direction to minister to Christians who already lived in Ireland and to convert the Irish to Christianity. Much of Ireland at that time practiced a nature based religion. St. Patrick used many symbols and traditions from that religion to teach about Christianity, such as superimposing the sun on a cross (which is now the Celtic cross), building bonfires as they honored their gods with fire, and it is believed that he may have used a three leafed clover to teach about the Trinity. He started over 300 churches in Ireland and by the 7th century had become the patron saint of Ireland. March 17, the day we celebrate St. Patrick's Day is believed to have been his death date in 460 AD. The St. Patrick's Day tradition was originally brought to America and made popular by Irish immigrants. And today in Ireland is a day to remember St. Patrick and celebrate the Irish culture.

More info: You can read a translated version St. Patrick's letter 'the confessio' here:"Confessio of Saint Patrick" it is a powerful read and not for the faint of heart! See a prayer that is was thought to have been written by him here: St Patrick's Breast-Plate. And you can see my post about the St. Patrick's Bell here: The Shrine of St. Patrick.

Sources: Wikipedia (where credible sources listed), history.com, St. Patrick's quotes came from the translated version of the Confessio listed above.
Photo credit: NeitherFanboy's photo stream on flicker listed under the 2.0/generic license


Who Was St. Valentine? {A mystery as deep as love itself}

Shrouded in mystery, St Valentine was described by pope Gelasius as among those -"whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are know only to God" at the dedication of the Feast of St. Valentine in 496AD.
Today those words are still true. 

There are three notable St. Valentines in history that may have been the Valentines we celebrate today. The first was martyred in a Roman province of Africa and not much else is known. The second was St. Valentines of Terni, a bishop from about 197ad.  The third was St. Valentines of Rome who was martyred around 270ad.

Of these three, the only solid reference is to the third one, St. Valentine of Rome, and is likely the one we derive our modern day celebrate from. The reference to this St. Valentine comes from an ancient text called the Nuremberg Chronicle where alongside the woodcut portrait of Valentine, it is written that he was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius II, known as Claudius Gothicus. He was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime. The Emperor Claudius took a liking to this prisoner – until Valentinus tried to convert the Emperor – whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that failed to kill him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate. (source)

At the time of  Claudius II in Rome it was not only illegal to aid Christians, but according to a quote by Father Frank O'Gara on cbn.com it was even illegal to marry young people as it was thought that unmarried soldiers fought better than those who had loved ones at home to worry about.

Nuremberg Chronicle (1493)
Where it is questionable:
The Nuremberg Chronicle (which give details of our a most likely St. Valentines) was written in 1493 nearly 1000 years after the dedication of  the St Valentines Feast where pope Gelasius stated the words "whose acts are know only to God". These words make it one ask the question, if so little was know about Valentines, where did the Chronicle derive its account of Valentines secretly marrying Christians? 

And another troubling detail, the account in the Nuremberg Chronicle would have put Valentine's martyrdom around 270 ad during the rule of Claudius, but the official list of martyrs for that time period was complied in 345ad and does not list any Valentines. There were however, as many as 14 Valentines recorded as being martyred in ancient Rome after 345ad (source).  Valentines was a common name in that time period derived from the word 'valens' meaning worthy, strong, powerful.

Where there is proof:
 There is a dedication in an ancient massive Roman church that reads:

Basilica S. Valentini extra Portam 
The basilica appellatur Valentini 

Which translates too:

The "Basilica of Staint Valentine beyond the Gate"
"is called Valentine's"

These seem to point to a notable roman priest 'Valentine' from an earlier (possibly 270ad) time period.

Saint Valentine of Terni oversees the construction of his basilica at Terni, 
from a 14th century French manuscript. 

Today it is still unclear if Valentines day is the compilation of the noble works of many St. Valentines plus a bit of legend, or the extraordinary works of one man. Either way, it is a tradition built on idea of :

noble honor, 
and good works. 

A beautiful history to accompany our modern day celebration of 
Saint Valentine baptizing Saint Lucilla byJacopo Bassano

Happy Valentine's Day

This was originally posted last year, but for those who did not see it I thought it would be a great post to share again. Happy Valentines!


Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. 
May all of his dreams come true.

Here shown with Lyndon B. Johnson:
(3 photos below)

With his wife:

With Malcolm X

And speaking:


Happy New Years!

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my dear, (for old times sake, my dear)
for auld lang syne, (for old times sake)
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne. (for old times sake)
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne. (for old times sake)

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine† ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give me a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

Wishing you the best in the new year!!

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Peppermint Chocolate Gingerbread Men {Christmas Cookie Recipe}

Full of flavor, these designer looking cookies are actually quite simple to make! 

Gingerbread cookies are a tradition in my household. A tradition that began when my husband and I were so very young, just starting out in life. I was a new mom still in my 20's. We lived in a little apartment and I had just quit work to stay at home full time with my kiddos.

At that time my husband worked on commission and had a very bad month. We knew his check was never the same from month to month, and was usually not forgiving at Christmas, so we were prepared.

 But, that first December was even more difficult that we expected. And we knew there would be no money for gifts outside of our little family. Being one who liked to bake, I always had an ample supply of flour, brown sugar, and such on hand. So I rifled through my cabinets and found that I had enough to make several dozen gingerbread men!

My oldest son, who was all of 2, and I set about making gingerbread men. We had the best time. He giggled as he saw them take shape. He waited as for them to come out of the oven and cool. He ate ALL of the broken ones. We made faces, smiles, frowns, and crooked little mouths.

We had so much fun! It became a tradition. And after 11 years of tweaking, the recipe below is the recipe we now make each year at Christmas. And that little 2 year old, who is now nearly 14, still smiles as he cuts out gingerbread men!

These cookies are really simple, there are no special tools required. The snowflake was an added touch this year, I bought a shaker full of them, but we usually make these without snowflakes. Once you have made your gingerbread men you just dip them in Chocolate that has been heated with a little vegetable oil and then when they are completely cool use a tablespoon to drizzle a mix of powdered sugar water and peppermint extract. Peppermint extract is found right next to the vanilla extract in most stores.

And the recipe above is printable!
To print: click on the recipe, click again to make sure it if fully expanded. Select 'file' and 'print' from your browsers window. (If you are using google chrome you may need to right click and open the recipe in a new window, click again to expand it, and then select the wrench from the top of the page to find the print button). If you have any trouble try saving the recipe to your desktop by right clicking on it and saving it and then printing from there.

I shared this recipe before, but as I am making these today though I would post them for anyone else looking for a fun holiday treat. :)

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