St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity’s most widely known figures. But for all of his prevalence in culture—namely the holiday held on the day of his death that bears his name—his life remains somewhat of a mystery.
Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling.
St. Patrick Wasn't Irish
St. Patrick was born in Britain—not Ireland—to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D.
Although his father was a Christian deacon, it has been suggested that he probably took on the role because of tax incentives and there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family.
At the age of 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. (There is some dispute over where this captivity took place. Although many believe he was taken to live in Mount Slemish in County Antrim, it is more likely that he was held in County Mayo near Killala.)
During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. (It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.)
READ MORE: St Patrick: Kidnapped by Pirates and Enslaved at 16
St. Patrick’s Visions and Miracles
After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. According to his writing, a voice—which he believed to be God’s—spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland.
To do so, Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, where it is believed he was held, to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation—an angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than 15 years.
After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission: to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish. (Interestingly, this mission contradicts the widely held notion that Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland.)
READ MORE: St. Patrick's Day Traditions
St. Patrick Incorporated Irish Culture Into Christian Lessons
Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish.
Although there were a small number of Christians on the island when Patrick arrived, most Irish practiced a nature-based pagan religion. The Irish culture centered around a rich tradition of oral legend and myth. When this is considered, it is no surprise that the story of Patrick’s life became exaggerated over the centuries—spinning exciting tales to remember history has always been a part of the Irish way of life.
READ MORE: How St. Patrick's Day Was Made in America
St. Patrick Was Never Canonized as a Saint
He may be known as the patron saint of Ireland, but Patrick was never actually canonized by the Catholic Church. This is simply due to the era he lived in. During the first millennium, there was no formal canonization process in the Catholic Church. After becoming a priest and helping to spread Christianity throughout Ireland, Patrick was likely proclaimed a saint by popular acclaim.
READ MORE: St. Patrick's Day Myths Debunked
History of St. Patrick
In 1808, Rev. William F.X. O'Brien was assigned to Pittsburgh to establish a parish. At this time only about 20 Catholic families lived in the city. That year he laid the cornerstone for the new church, although the church was not dedicated until August of 1811. Even then the church was not completed. No pews were installed. Instead, plans for the pews were drawn on the floor and, as they could afford it, families would hire a carpenter to build their pew on the site they picked out.
As the city population began to rise, so too did the congregation of St. Patrick. In 1825, an addition to the church was begun and the exterior was completed in 1826. Even this addition proved inadequate and the pastor of St. Patrick, Fr. Charles Maguire, called a meeting of local Catholics on August 27, 1827, to consider the building of a new church, which would later become St. Paul Cathedral. To secure the financial support of the rapidly growing German population, Fr. Maguire agreed to turn St. Patrick over to the Germans after the new church was built. When St. Paul was dedicated in the summer of 1834, St. Patrick became a German ethnic parish.
The parish's German phase lasted only five years. Due to financial disputes with the pastor of St. Paul regarding rental fees for the church, the Germans decided to abandon St. Patrick and found a new parish. In October of 1840, an English speaking congregation was again established in St. Patrick. On August 10, 1854, a machine shop next to the church caught fire and the flames spread to the church and destroyed it. As the city was growing, it was decided to move the site of the church from 11th Street to 14th Street. The new church was dedicated on August 15, 1858.
This church did not last long. The economic and population boom engendered by the Civil War soon led Saint Patrick 3'd church to overcrowding. As the same time the Pennsylvania Railroad Company wished to purchase the site of the church for expansion. A lot was purchased on 17th Street and Liberty Avenue and work began on a new church. This church was dedicated on December 15,1865. The old church was sold to the railroad company and torn down.
By 1923, the future of the parish was in doubt. Most of the parish's residents had been pushed out of the area by the expansion of business in the area, particularly the produce industry. Only 35 families remained in the parish. But that year also saw the arrival of a new pastor, Rev. James Cox. This priest revitalized the parish dramatically. In 1924, the parish became the "American Shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes" by Rev. Cox in thanks for the healing of his eyes at Lourdes earlier. Beginning in 1925, a local radio station began broadcasting the daily Mass from St. Patrick, a practice that lasted for 33 years. When the depression began, St. Patrick became a center for relief for the poor. The parish distributed over two million free meals and 500,000 baskets of food, clothing and fuel.
On March 21, 1935, a fire destroyed St. Patrick church. While a new church was being built, the parish used the Good Samaritan Chapel to celebrate Mass. The new St. Patrick church was dedicated on March 17, 1936. Included in the church was a piece of the Blarney Stone from Blarney Castle in Ireland. The stone was placed in the tower that sheltered the baptistery. In 1937, the Monastery Gardens were erected. The gardens included a large outdoor grotto containing a marble altar. Outdoor Masses were celebrated there in good weather. By the end of the twentieth century, the population in the city had dropped to the point that it was no longer practical for each parish in the Strip District to remain independent. In 1993, St. Patrick merged with St. Stanislaus Kostka and St. Elizabeth to form the new St. Patrick-St. Stanislaus Kostka parish. St. Patrick church remains open and continues to serve the new parish.
As one turns into the church courtyard, the beautiful monastic-like garden imparts a feeling of peace. The garden features an outdoor grotto in honor of the apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes. Statues in the garden honor: The Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Bernadette, Saint Ann, Saint Joseph, Saint Patrick, Saint Anthony, and Blessed Kateri Tekawitha -Lady of the Mohawks. The surprising beauty and oasis of solitude in the bustling city reminds us that God’s grace can be found in the most unexpected places.
The vestibule honors the Saints of God as well as those pious men and women, who by their actions Ascending the Holy Stairs (a devotion done on one’s knees) or walking up the vestibule stairs, one is again imparted with a sense of peace through the dignified simplicity of the church and the devotion of their lives -serving Jesus, are in the process of being beatified and canonized.
The truth is more amazing than the myths.
I reland has a very distinctive history. It was an island untouched by the Roman legions, and Patrick, the Evangelist, brought to it the Gospel of grace.
These facts are recorded in Patrick’s own testimony of faith. This authentic document is preserved in five manuscripts: one in the Book of Armagh of the seventh century, the second in the Cotton Library of the tenth century, a third in the French monastery of St. Vedastus, and two more in the Cathedral Library of Salisbury. This authenticated document is the main source of both the person and the mission of Patrick, and also his clear statement of the Gospel of grace.
Patrick was born in a town on the River Clyde in Roman Britain, now a part of Scotland. When he was sixteen years old, Patrick was captured by a band of pirates who sold him to a chieftain in what is now county Antrim in Northern Ireland. For six years he tended flocks. In his testimony he tells us,
“I was taken captive before I knew what I should desire and what I should shun.”
It was during the time of his captivity that he turned from his careless ways and came to a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus. He was convicted that he was a sinner. In his own words,
“Before I was humbled, I was like a stone lying in deep mire, and He that is mighty came and in His mercy raised me up and, indeed, lifted me high up and placed me on top of the wall. And from there I ought to shout out in gratitude to the Lord for His great favours in this world and for ever, that the mind of man cannot measure.”
Patrick, like so many of the godly men of history, found God's favor in the riches of the grace of Christ. This was the theme echoing throughout the testimony of Patrick, in his own words,
“I am greatly God's debtor, because he granted me so much grace.”
He then grew in the grace of God. Having believed on “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,”  he directly received “of his fullness—grace for grace.” In his own words,
“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.”
Patrick relates how, after six years, he escaped and after a difficult journey on land and sea returned to his people in Scotland. In his own words,
“I was again in Britain with my family [kinsfolk], and they welcomed me as a son, and asked me, in faith, that after the great tribulations I had endured I should not go any where else away from them.”
St. Patrick Discovers His Early Faith
One night, as St. Patrick wrote, a strange voice called to him and said, “Look, your ship is ready!” He felt this divine intervention meant that the time had come for him to make a break from his bondage. He trekked 200 miles to Ireland’s east coast and pleaded to come aboard a Britain-bound ship.
The pagan captain, however, didn’t quite trust Patrick. He demanded that St. Patrick “suck his breasts” as a sign of his submission to the captain’s authority. Patrick allegedly refused to do so and instead tried to convert the ship’s crew to Christianity at which point, the captain relented and allowed him passage.
After three days at sea, St. Patrick landed in Britain and his shipmates wandered a “wilderness” for 28 days, exhausted from starvation, while Patrick prayed for food. When a wild boar appeared shortly after, the group’s faith in Patrick’s connection to God grew substantially.
Patrick, himself, had another divine dream during this time that Satan tested his faith by dropping a boulder on him. Trapped and crushed under its weight until dawn, he called out “Helias!” Surely, the Greek sun-god would help. Suddenly, the rock disappeared.
“I believe that I was helped by Christ the Lord,” he later wrote.
Wikimedia Commons The purported gravestone of St. Patrick in the churchyard of Down Cathedral. Downpatrick, Ireland.
Patrick would be visited again by the divine in another vision once he was able to return home a few years later. This vision urged him to fulfill his God-given purpose: as a missionary in the pagan lands of Ireland, where he was once held hostage.
“I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victorious, 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.'”
Thus, Patrick began his training as a bishop and returned to Ireland.
Wikimedia Commons Chicago dyes the Chicago River green each year in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. While the green color itself is certainly historically relevant, green beer is not.
Patricius: The True Story of St. Patrick
Before all the festivities focused on shamrocks and leprechauns and good luck wishes, there was truly something to celebrate: a man willing to stand in the gap for Jesus Christ. Reporter David Kithcart reveals the inspiring true story behind this courageous and fervent Irishman we all know as Saint Patrick.
It was an act of defiance that changed the course of a nation. Patrick lit a fire in pagan 5th century Ireland, ushering Christianity into the country. Who was this man who became the patron saint of Ireland?
Ireland was a beautiful island shrouded in terrible darkness. Warlords and druids ruled the land. But across the sea in Britain, a teenager was poised to bring this nation to God.
"Patrick was born into a Christian family," says Philip Freeman, author of St. Patrick of Ireland. "His father was a deacon his grandfather a priest. But Patrick says that from an early age, he didn't have any serious interest in religion and that he was pratically an atheist when he was a teenager."
You can get a copy of CBN's new movie "I Am Patrick" on DVD for a gift of $15 or more HERE on CBN.com.
Around 400 A.D., Patrick was abducted from his village and thrown onto a slave ship headed for Ireland.
"He saw that as God chastising him, first of all," says Rev. Sean Brady. "That was the first view. He says we deserved what we got. We're carried at 16 years of age over to this foreign land."
Patrick was sold to a chieftain named Milchu. He spent six years tending his master's flocks on the slopes of the Slemish Mountain. Patrick recounts his time as a slave in his memoir entitled The Confession.
"He says, 'I prayed a hundred times in the day and almost as many at night,' " says Rev. Brady, the Roman Catholic Archbiship of Armagh and Primate of All of Ireland. "Through that experience of prayer and trial, he came to know another God -- God the Father, who was his protector. He came to know Jesus Christ in those sufferings, and he came to be united with Christ and he came to identify with Christ, and then of course, also the Holy Spirit."
One night during a time of prayer and fasting, Patrick wrote: "I heard in my sleep a voice saying to me: 'It is well that you fast. Soon you will go to your own country.' And again, after a short while, I heard a voice saying to me: 'See, your ship is ready.' "
Patrick escaped and traveled 200 miles cross country to the west coast. He found a ship ready to sail, but was refused passage. After a desperate prayer, he was allowed aboard.
Patrick eventually returned to his home and family. His experience of God's grace and provision solidified his faith. He began to study for the ministry.
Freeman says, "One night, he had a dream. Thee was a man who came from Ireland with a whole bunch of letters. And he opened up one of the letters and it said 'The Voice of the Irish.' And then he heard a voice coming out of this letter that said, 'Holy boy, please return to us. We need you.'"
Patrick struggled in his soul. Could he return to Ireland and minister to the same people who had enslaved him? Once again, he turned to God in prayer. He received the answer in a dream.
"He talks about how he, in this dream, is trying to pray and yet he can't," says Freeman. "So he hears a voice coming from inside of him which he realizes is the voice of God praying for him."
Patrick knew he had to go and convince his church that he was called to be a missionary to Ireland. He set sail in a small ship.
Patrick landed at the mouth of the Slaney River. When Patrick set foot on this shore, a new era dawned on this island.
"The Ireland of his day really wasn't much different from the Ireland of a few years ago here where we are sitting here at this moment," notes Most Reverend Dr. Robert Eames, Church of England Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland. "It was an Ireland of tribalism, an Ireland of war, an Ireland of suspicion, an Ireland of violence and death. Here he came as a virtual stranger to this country of warring factions."
"They worshipped multiple gods of the sky and the earth and the water," says Freeman. "And so that was his first challenge: to convince the Irish that there was only one God and that his God really did love them."
Patrick came face to face with the chieftains and their druid priests. The showdown came on the morning of his first Easter in Ireland.
Monsignor Raymond Murray, parish priest of Cookstown in Northern Ireland explains further: "Part of the pagan worship of fall to spring, from the beginning of the summer, was that a fire was lit, and first of all, the fire on the hill of Tara and no other lights at all in Ireland."
This monastery on the hill of Slane is where Patrick -- in direct defiance of the high king of Tara -- lit a forbidden fire.
Notes Rev. Brady, "He was summoned before the king, and he explained that he wasn't a threat, because he was bringing the new light, the light of Christ, the Savior of the world, the Light of the world."
"The first light of Easter day was dawning. Patrick brought the hope of Easter day to Ireland," says Rev. Eames.
The weather can be absolutely brutal here in Ireland. But just imagine how it must've been for Patrick in the 5th century as he trekked across the countryside bringing the Gospel to the pagan Celts.
"People sometimes made fun of him because he said that God often gave him a message there was danger ahead," says Freeman. "But, he said, 'Laugh at me if you will. This is something that has protected me in Ireland.'"
Listen to Patrick's poem of faith and trust in God, "The Breastplate":
"Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger."
Myths and legends have grown up around this hero of Ireland.
As Monsignor Murray explains, it is sometimes difficult to describe the triune aspect of God. So, according to the story, to better illustrate the central teaching of the trinity, Patrick took a shamrock and pointed out the three leaves on it. Interestingly, it is only in Ireland that you find this shamrock. Therefore, the people believed.
"One of the famous legends, of course, is that Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland," says Irish historian Harold Calvert.
In fact, any snakes in Ireland had disappeared during the Ice Age.
"The legend about the driving of the snakes may, in fact, really symbolize the driving out of evil," says Calvert.
In 432 A.D., Patrick built a church on the site of the present day St. Patrick's Memorial Church in Saul -- the first ever Christian church in all of Ireland. It's considered the cradle of Irish Christianity.
"Preaching the Gospel, of course, baptizing converts, confirming them, appointing clergy," continues Calvert.
Patrick's ministry lasted 29 years. He baptized over 120,000 Irishmen and planted 300 churches.
"What Patrick did was really lay the groundwork for Christianity," says Freeman.
To this day, no one knows where Patrick is buried, but many believe that it is somewhere beneath the church on the hill at Down Cathedral.
Rev. Sean Brady concludes, "He was a man who came to face and help his former enemies who had enslaved him. He came back to help them and to do them a great favor -- the greatest favor he possibly could."
Rev. Earnes concurs, "I honestly feel that what Patrick taught Ireland was that there is a cost to discipleship, but it's a cost worth paying. And I believe, to bring this right up to date, the church of St. Patrick must be constantly saying to people, 'Discipleship demands of you, but it's a cost that Christ will help you to pay.'"
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St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world's most popular saints. He was born in Roman Britain and when he was fourteen or so, he was captured by Irish pirates during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. At the time, Ireland was a land of Druids and pagans but Patrick turned to God and wrote his memoir, The Confession. In The Confession, he wrote:
"The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same. I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain."
Patrick's captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britain and was reunited with his family.
A few years after returning home, Patrick saw a vision he described in his memoir:
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"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.'"
The vision prompted his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years, and was later ordained a bishop and sent to take the Gospel to Ireland.
Patrick arrived in Slane, Ireland on March 25, 433. There are several legends about what happened next, with the most prominent claiming he met the chieftan of one of the druid tribes, who tried to kill him. After an intervention from God, Patrick was able to convert the chieftain and preach the Gospel throughout Ireland. There, he converted many people -eventually thousands - and he began building churches across the country.
He often used shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity and entire kingdoms were eventually converted to Christianity after hearing Patrick's message.
Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461.
He died at Saul, where he had built the first Irish church. He is believed to be buried in Down Cathedral, Downpatrick. His grave was marked in 1990 with a granite stone.
Patrick was a humble, pious, gentle man, whose love and total devotion to and trust in God should be a shining example to each of us. So complete was his trust in God, and of the importance of his mission, he feared nothing -not even death.
"The Breastplate," Patrick's poem of faith and trust in God:
"Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger."
from Stephen Nichols Mar 17, 2021 Category: Articles
When it comes to Saint Patrick, the true story is even more exciting than the legend and the myth. The facts are far better than the fable. This day that belongs to St. Patrick has become about leprechauns, shamrocks, pots of gold, and green—green everywhere. Famously, the City of Chicago dumps forty pounds of its top-secret dye into the river. A green racing stripe courses through the city. But long before there was the St. Patrick of myth, there was the Patrick of history. Who was Patrick?
Patrick was born in 385 in Roman Britannia in the modern-day town of Dumbarton, Scotland. Patrick opens his autobiographical St. Patrick’s Confession with these opening lines:
Patrick skips over much of his first sixteen years. But who can blame him? At sixteen and being captured by barbarian Irish pirates is a pretty exciting place to begin a story. When the pirates landed on the Irish coast, they took Patrick about 200 miles inland where he was a shepherd and farm laborer. Six years passed and Patrick had either a vivid dream or a vision in which he was shown an escape route. Emboldened, Patrick made his break from his captors, traveling back over the 200 miles to the shoreline. As he approached the docks, a British ship stood waiting. The sails unfurled and Patrick was home. But he didn’t stay long.
Before he was a prisoner, Patrick’s Christian faith meant little to him. That changed during his captivity. His previously ambivalent faith galvanized and served to buoy him through those long, dark days. Now that he was back in his homeland he committed to his faith in earnest. He became a priest and soon felt a tremendous burden for the people that had kidnapped him. So he returned to Ireland with a mission.
Patrick had no less of a goal than seeing pagan Ireland converted. These efforts did not set well with Loegaire (or Leoghaire), the pagan king of pagan Ireland. Patrick faced danger and even threats on his life. He took to carrying a dagger. Yet, despite these setbacks, Patrick persisted. Eventually the king converted and was baptized by Patrick and much of the people of Ireland followed suit. A later legend would have it that Patrick rid all of Ireland of snakes. Snakes were not native to Ireland at the time. Instead, Patrick rid Ireland of marauding ways and a cultural and civil barbarianism by bringing not only Christianity to Ireland, but by bringing a whole new ethic. It was not too long ago that a New York Times’ bestselling book argued that St. Patrick and his Ireland saved civilization.
Patrick would come to be known as the “Apostle of Ireland.” He planted churches, the first one likely at a place called Saul, in Northern Ireland, a bit inland from the coast and just below Belfast. Patrick planted more churches as he crisscrossed Ireland. The challenge with Patrick is sifting through the legend. Take the shamrock for instance. Some biographers claim definitively that Patrick used the shamrock as an object lesson to teach pagans about the Trinity, that God is one in essence and three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is no evidence, however, for such a claim.
Curiously, like most of his legend, St. Patrick is not even truly a saint. He has never been canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. Patrick himself told us he was a sinner, not a saint.
Legend further has it that Patrick died on March 17, 461. He likely died in Saul, where he planted his first church. A significant monument stands atop the hill overlooking the town. Panels depicting scenes from Patrick’s life surround the monument’s base.
What casts a far greater shadow than his monument, however, is St. Patrick’s Day. And that day in the middle of March raises a significant question: Should Christians celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? If you do, you might want to consider wearing orange. Orange? Here’s why. After 1798 the color of green was closely associated with Roman Catholicism and orange with Protestantism—after William of Orange, the Protestant king. The holiday is certainly not to be used as means for excessive partying and celebration. But wearing orange and trying to tell people who St. Patrick really was might be a good way to celebrate.
So we remember Patrick best not in the legends and fables and not in the ways his holiday tends to be celebrated. Perhaps we remember him best by reflecting on the “St. Patrick’s Breastplate,” which has traditionally been attributed to him. The word breastplate is a translation of the Latin word lorica, a prayer, especially for protection. These prayers would be written out and at times placed on shields of soldiers and knights as they went out to battle. St. Patrick’s Lorica points beyond himself and his adventurous life. It points to Christ, the one he proclaimed to the people who had taken him captive:
Dr. Stephen Nichols is president of Reformation Bible College, chief academic officer for Ligonier Ministries, and the host of the podcasts 5 Minutes in Church History and Open Book.
Patrick’s mission in Ireland was twofold. He was to minister to the Christians who already existed in Ireland, as well as to convert the Irish who were not yet believers. Cleverly, Patrick used traditional rituals to bridge the gap between widely held pagan beliefs and Christianity, such as using bonfires to celebrate Easter, and creating the Celtic cross, which incorporated pagan symbols, to make it seem more appealing to venerate.
A Celtic Cross in the Artillery Park.
Image Credit: Wilfredor / CC
He also performed baptisms and confirmations, converting the sons of kings and wealthy women – several of whom became nuns. He is widely believed to have become the first bishop of Armagh later in his life.
History of Saint Patrick, Missouri
St. Patrick, Missouri is a small village located in the southeast part of Jackson Town ship in Clark County, Missouri. Irish Catholics settled it, but all nationalities and religions are represented here. The Catholic religion remains predominant.
The first settlers came to Clark County, Missouri, in 1829 and settled near the present town of St. Francisville. This history of St. Patrick dates back almost that far.
Many of the early settlers in America moved from the East Coast to Kentucky. Such was the case of the Riney and Simpson families.
James Montgomery Simpson was born in Maryland in 1784 and married Mary A. Boone in 1807 in Washington County, Kentucky. They had five children- Rose, Celestine, Ursula, Matilda, and Mary Ann. Presumably, Mary died (between the birth of her last child, May 27, 1815, and January 3, 1816) as James married Monica McAtee January 3, 1816.
John B. Riney was born in Maryland around 1782 and married Mary Ogden in 1802 in Washington County, Kentucky. They had 10 children - Margaret, Richard, Elizabeth, Charlotta, Mary Ann, Sally, James Felix, Rosella, Julia, and Matilda. The Simpson and Riney families were both in Sangamon County, Illinois, in 1829.
Rev. Joseph Lietz married Richard Riney and Rose Simpson July 19, 1830. Their oldest son, John, was born in Sangamon County, Illinois April13, 1832. Richard and Rose Riney moved to what is now Clark County, Missouri, in 1833. 1t is hard to determine how many of the family came with them, but it is probable that Richard's parents, John and Mary Riney, and his sister, Mary Ann (married James Shuman), came with them in 1833. Other members of Richard's family came to Clark County, Missouri- Margaret in 1834 (married Thomas Horrell) Elizabeth in 1834 (married William Bennett) Charlotta in 1834 (married Ignatius Higdon) Sally in 1840 (married Everestus Durbin) James Felix in 1836 to Lewis County (married Mary Ann Durbin, Mary Lucas) Rosella- date unknown (married Benjamin Bennett) Julia- date unknown (married F. M. Gatton) and Matilda- date unknown (single).
James and Monica Simpson and most of their children stayed in Ruma, Illinois. Children of James and Mary Simpson were Rose (married Richard Riney) Clark County Celistine (married Elizabeth Bennett and Eleanor Brown) Clark County Ursula (married Philip Deveraux) possibly Perryville, Missouri Matilda (married John B. La yton) Perryville, Missouri and Mary Ann (married John Vinson) Ruma, Illinois.
Richard (born April19, 1806) and Rose Simpson (born July 19, 1810) Riney were the first' settlers at what is now St. Patrick. They settled near an Indian village - near the present Lake of the Oaks road. They were parents of eight children- John (married Mary Jane Brown) James Felix (probably married Kittie Cross?) Henry (married Mary J. Gleason) Mary Ann (married Isodore Manning) Richard Thomas (married Rebecca McDermott) George (married Mary Owsley) Barnard V. died when three years old and Edmund (married Sally Owsley, Lena Taylor, and Lilly Shuman Young). Richard and Rose lived the remainder of their lives there. Richard died December 18, 1858 and Rose died December 18, 1908. They are buried in the St. Patrick cemetery. Rather interesting to note that Rose died 50 years to the day after Richard. Richard's original stone is still legible. Rose's stone was gone, so Mary Riney Merrill collected funds from Riney descendants and purchased a new one. Many of their descendants live in the St. Patrick area today.
Richard and Rose Riney were my great-great grandparents. John was my great grandfather.
Catholics came early to Missouri. The first Catholic Church in St. Louis was about 1770. The Diocese of St. Louis was formed in 1827. The first appointed Bishop in 1829 was Rev. Joseph Rosati.
The first log church was built at North Santa Fe (now St. Patrick) in 1834 at a cost of about $75.00. The location is unknown. Rose Riney's obituary states she helped build the first church. They named it St. Patrick Church. Father Peter Paul Lafevre, from Hannibal, was the first pastor. He served many Northeast Missouri parishes as a circuit rider.
Clark County was organized in 1836. Land entries prior to 1836 in Clay and Jackson Townships were John B. Riney, John Lewellen, Moses Johnson, and James McDermott.
In 1838, Bishop Joseph Rosati purchased 80 acres (west half of NWQ of Section 13, Township 63, Range 7 West) from the USA by Martin Van Buren for church property. These 80 acres (minus 15+ acres that were later sold) are still St. Patrick church property today.
Father Tucker (1839), Father Cusack (early 1840s), and several Lazarist Fathers served the parish as circuit riders.
Father Dennis Byrne was appointed the first resident pastor in 1846 and served until 1852. In 1852, North Santa Fe (as it was then called) was the first organized Catholic congregation in Clark County.
Father Cullenan and Father James Murphy were short-term pastors. Few parish records were kept and very little is known about his era.
Father Bernard Patrick McMenomy, born in County Donegal, Ireland, came to North Santa Fe in 1854. It was his first parish. He sold 10 acres of church property in individual lots and platted a town he named St. Marysville.
John Daly purchased property in St. Marysville October 22, 1857, and it has been in his family continuously ever since. Thelma (Katy) Curfman lives there today.
When Father McMenomy applied for a post office it meant another name change for the village- there was another Marysville in Clark County. Christianity had come early to Donegal, Ireland, as St. Patrick visited it passing through the Bunesmore Gap northward to Ineshaiven. Perhaps Father McMenomy thought the Irish and their Christianity had come early to Missouri also-hence, he renamed it St. Patrick. The post office was granted and John McSorley was appointed postmaster March 12, 1858. The post office was discontinued November 23, 1860.
The small log church had become too small for the parish. Father Turnell was probably the pastor that planned the construction of the brick church in 1860 (cost about $3,000) and the brick rectory in 1861. The first resident pastor had been appointed in 1846 but had no residence to live in until 1861. The priests stayed in various homes (many times with the Ford family) and spent many hours in the saddle traveling to the Catholic mission churches in La Grange, Canton, Alexandria, Williams town, Kahoka, and Wayland.
Legend tells us that homemade bricks were made for the 1860 church in a brick kiln located east of the St. Patrick cemetery. The brick masons wouldn't use them because they were too soft, so bricks were purchased for the church. The homemade bricks were used in the 1861 rec tory. This rectory made from the homemade bricks stood for nearly 100 years and by 1900 the church walls were crumbling. The brick church was a large, beautiful building. The rectory had two stories, large halls, two stairways, nine rooms with high ceilings, and had a stove in every room.
Father Patrick Gleason came to St. Patrick about 1866. The St. Patrick church filed a petition for incorporation in March 1866.
The post office re-opened November 29, 1867. The first July 4th picnic was held about 1867- a tradition that lasted over 1000 years.
The building of the church and rectory, during a depressed economic times forced the parish to borrow money from several individuals. All loans were repaid except one. Money was borrowed from Stephen Roach in 1869 and 40 acres of church land were given in a deed of trust. Stephen Roach made his will April 9, 1873. In his will, he willed the land back to the church if he died before the loan was repaid. Stephen Roach died July 16, 1873. James Collins, Administrator, released the deed of trust February 12, 1880.
Lewis County obtained a Catholic priest in 1869 so Father Gleason had only three mission churches in Alexandria, Wayland, and Kahoka. The post office was discontinued September 24, 1869.
Thomas Breen purchased 5.47 acres of church land December 12, 1870.
Father William Maddox was appointed pastor in 1871 and drowned in 1876. He was buried in the St. Patrick cemetery. His successor was Father Eugene Coyle.
The post office re-opened March 4, 1878.
The church petition for incorporation (filed in 1866) was granted August 13, 1879. These men were appointed the first Trustees of the church: Joseph Uhlmeyer, Charles P. O'Farrell, Lewis Moore, and James Ryan.
A small amount of church land (150' square at SW corner of Block 3) was sold to Joseph Uhlmeyer January 20, 1879.
Parish records are few and very little information could be obtained about the following years. Father J. J. Mahen (1884) (church membership was about 300 in 1887) Father John Cosgrove (1889) Father Tim Dempsey Father Peter J. O'Rouke (1894) and Father Frances Gilfillan all served as pastors.
Father P. F. Cooney became pastor in 1897. The brick church needed to be replaced so he built a white frame church at a cost of about $2,000 in 1903. Church services were held at Reischling's Store while it was being built. This church was building on the same site as the brick church (where the Shrine of St. Patrick stands today) and used the reverse side of the 1860 cornerstone for its cornerstone. The solicitors for this church were: James Ahem, Henry Danker, Joseph Weiss, C. J. Boudreau, Henry Forstove, and Pat King. The building committee was: James Ryan, Bernard Kelly, Joseph Logsdon, President Martin Danker, and Treasurer, J. J. Wheeler.
Father Cooney was followed by Father S. J. Brady.
When Father P. J. Carney became pastor, he began collecting funds for a Catholic school. There was probably a school located here earlier but the location and years are in doubt. Old Atlases mention No.3 St. Marysville School- Lot 7, Block 2. The late George Wiegand stated there was a school south of the Larry Logsdon home that burned in the early 1880s. His mother had attended school there. After it burned, the children attended school at Rabbit Ridge or Victory (it was known by both names) east of the St. Patrick cemetery. Enumeration lists of 1902 and 1903 list Rabbit Ridge as No.3. Perhaps it was built or renumbered after the St. Marysville School burned. Accurate information on the early schools is very hard to obtain.
The new parochial school was built of cement and was modern in design. The school had three stories, ample classroom space, and later one of the first indoor basketball courts in Clark County. The cornerstone reads September 1, 1909, and it cost about $11,000. It was located north of the church. Father E. A. Bolger was actively in charge of the work done on the school. Classes were held for a short time in the church until the school opened in 1910. In May 1910, Clark County had 92 school districts and District No. 3 became St. Patrick No. 85. The Sisters of Divine Providence of San Antonio, Texas staffed this new school. Old, incomplete records indicate the Sisters left the parish in 1912 and lay teachers taught in the school for three years.
The St. Patrick parish changed from the Diocese of St. Louis to the Diocese of St. Joseph in 1912, while Father Daniel J. O'Donoven was pastor.
On October 5, 1912, John Kirchner purchased a small amount of church land (30'S 150' E of SW corner of Block 3, 115' E 60' N).
Joseph Reischling purchased a small amount (1.75 acres) of church land April 29, 1913 (NW corner of SW 1/3 of NWQ of S13-T63 R7W running E 383' to county road south 200' N 200' 2" W 383' to Section Line).
The Sisters of St. Francis from Clinton, Iowa, came to operate the school in August 1915. These devoted Sisters taught in the school for nearly 40 years. The Sisters lived in the basement of the school for several years and did much of the janitor work.
The post office was again closed September 15, 1916.
When Father Denis Mulcahy came in 1917, he started collecting funds to build a convent for the Sisters to live in. Bill Uhlmeyer built the convent about 1925. Perhaps the Sisters' lives became a little easier then.
The post office re-opened October 6, 1921 and John N. Kirchner was appointed postmaster. His son, Nick Kirchner, was assistant postmaster. The post office was in the John N. Kirchner store building. The building was built in 1914 and has a ridge row with shamrocks on the roof.
A small amount of land was sold to John F. and Anne Uhlmeyer for a star in 1923- E 110' W 110 AND 135' S to beginning.
A large statue of St. Patrick (donated by Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Wheeler) was placed on the front of the school in 1923. It was placed outside, at the third floor level, over the school entrance. It was made of imported material, weighed about 1,000 pounds, and was purchased from Daprats Statuary Co. in Chicago, Illinois. It was shipped to Canton and brought to St. Patrick in a wagon drawn by horses. This statue, of the patron saint of Ireland, was guaranteed to outlast the niche in which it was placed. Mr. Wheeler was born in County Longford, Ireland.
Nick Kirchner purchased his first truck in 1926. His trucking firm was later combined with a fertilizer, seed, and feed business. This business and Kirchner's General Store provided employment for many people in our community for years. Nick Kirchner died in 1991.
Bill Uhlmeyer, a local carpenter, built a stable for the inside Nativity about this time. No one is exactly certain of the date. In 1987 his son, Alvin Uhlmeyer, had a plate made to be placed on the crib - made in 1927. It is still used at Christmas time.
Father Jerome Walsh came in 1927 and died in 1928.
Father Torn Dempsey, born in County Offaly, Ireland, carne to the parish in 1928.
He was a man dedicated to his work of making things better for the community. Our dirt roads became almost impassible when they were muddy. He worked to obtain gravel roads for the area. This added work did not help his already failing health. He did not live to see his work accomplished - he died in 1931. The road named Route Z or Dempsey Highway was graveled (now blacktop) about 1935. A sign, Dempsey Highway, was placed at the junction of Highway 61 and Route Z, a memorial to a man and his dream.
In 1929, R. C. and Laveta Logsdon's General Store was established. This store continued as a business in St. Patrick until the death of Laveta Logsdon in 1994.
Following Father Dempsey's death, the St. Patrick parish was without a resident pastor for over a year. Father Philip Gannon took care of the St. Patrick parish as well as his own Canton parish. He is probably best remembered for the winning basketball teams he coached!
A small amount of church land was granted for a road in 1931.
Father Jeremiah O'Connor came to St. Patrick as resident pastor in 1932 and served until1935. This was depression time and the farming community was in a deep financial crisis.
Another priest came - a young Irish priest full of enthusiasm, dauntless energy, and a DREAM. Arriving one rainy evening, Father Francis O'Duignan drove through the village before he realized he had arrived. When he found the rectory, he was greeted warmly by the housekeeper, Annie McDermott. Father O'Duignan was born July 11, 1901 in County Longford, Ireland, came to America in 1927, and to St. Patrick in 1935. Here he was faced with loneliness, buildings in need of repairs, the parochial school in financial trouble, and his first Sun day collection was $1.72. As he struggled with his problems, he hoped to leave the parish a better place than he found it.
Through the efforts of Father O'Duignan, the parochial school was changed to a public school with the Sisters of St. Francis still in charge. The small community was very proud of its four-year fully accredited high school. The Sisters Chapel had been in the school basement and now had to be removed. A chapel was added to the east end of the convent about 1937. It had a shamrock shaped stained glass window with St. Patrick in the center.
Father O'Duignan had a dream of building a Shrine to St. Patrick. St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, is probably the only patron saint that belongs to the entire world. He had found the place to build the Shrine- St. Patrick, Missouri, the only town in the world (with a post office) to bear the name of Ireland's patron _saint. Over 1,000 churches in the world are named St. Patrick, but this is the only town. He believed St. Patrick would bless all who aided in making this Missouri Shrine possible. Father O'Duignan began making plans. Knowing the task of building a Shrine was too great for his small rural parish, he would ask others to help him. He wanted St. Patrick to be known all over the world . In 1936, he designed a green shamrock cachet and stamped it on 500 letters. John N. Kirchner, Postmaster, hand stamped the regulation March 17 postmark on these 500 envelopes.
Father O'Duignan asked the typing classes to type letters (how we would have loved a copy machine!) explaining his dream of building a Shrine that would be mailed to Irish surnames (selected from city telephone directories) asking for donations. Each year the volume of mail increased. Letters were sent to the rectory to have the shamrock cachet put on them. They were then taken to the post office for a March 17 postmark. Many of these letters contained donations for the Shrine.
John N. Kirchner retired in January, 1940. John Logsdon became Acting Postmaster and was appointed Postmaster in April, 1940. The post office was moved to the Logsdon's General Store.
In 1941, the Rabbit Ridge schoolhouse was moved to St. Patrick to be used as a "band house." The band students were delighted with their own private music building. The teachers and other students were also delighted that they didn't have to li ten to music all day!
Father O'Duignan increased the publicity of the small village. He handled thousands of letters on March 17, wrote articles for newspapers, had girl flown from Ireland for St. Patrick's Day Queen, had shamrocks flown from Ireland and dropped in St. Patrick at the dedication of the Shrine, began a huge St. Patrick's Day celebration, etc. He had found ways of making St. Patrick a name to remember.
A small tract of church land was sold to R. C. and La Veta Logsdon August 3, 1945 (beginning SE corner of a tract of land formerly owned by J. Reischling- S 100' W 383' 100' E 383', to place of beginning).
John Logsdon resigned as Postmaster in 1948. Laveta Logsdon was appointed Acting Postmaster and later Postmaster on May 26, 1949. The post office was moved across the road to the R. C. Logsdon's General Store.
Anna Marie Hennessy, a former resident of Wayland, Missouri, brought the first of many Chicago tours to St. Patrick in 1948 or 1949. These Chicago visitors donated money and many items for the proposed Shrine.
During these years of collecting Shrine funds and recruiting priests for the Diocese, Father O'Duignan spent several summers in Ireland. Canton priests, Father John Kenny (mid-1940s) and Father Michael O'Rourke (early 1950s) conducted services for him.
The old brick rectory was nearly 100 years old and needed to be replaced. Frank Beard of Kahoka, Missouri was the architect. Bryon Whiston, owner of Whiston Construction Company, Can ton, Missouri, built the rectory in 1951. Byron Whiston was a member of the parish. The new rectory had a full basement, nine rooms, two bathrooms, and a beautiful walnut staircase. Bud Treadwell donated the walnut. A shamrock of Bedford stone was installed in the front of the rectory and a Celtic cross on top. It cost about $25,000.
Some lay teachers were hired for the high school in the school year 1950-51. Lay teachers staffed the entire school in the school year of 1953-54. An era of nearly 40 years was finished when the Sisters of St. Francis did not return as teachers. Many memories of the devotion and inspiration they gave to our parish will always be remembered. Their lives weren't easy here. They were isolated in a small, rural community without a car or public transportation- but they always had love and compassion for their students. When I saw a grade school teacher of mine, Sister Scholastica (now Sister Catherine Coupe) after nearly 50 years, she still remembered some of the names of the students she taught at St. Patrick. Memories of Latin classes, band, music and academic contests, English, library, etc. still remain in the hearts of their former students. Several girls from St. Patrick followed in their footsteps and became nuns-some belonging to the Sisters of St. Francis. Sister Pauline Logsdon, Sister Eleanor (Louise Dunning), and Sister Agnes Clare (Susan Henderson) joined the Sisters of St. Francis and are still living.
The St. Patrick parish was changed from the Diocese of St. Joseph to the Dioceses of Jefferson City July 2, 1956. The Shrine of St. Patrick was to be built - the fulfillment of an "impossible dream."
Maurice Car roll of St. Louis was the architect. Bryon Whiston, owner of Whiston Construction Company, Canton, Missouri, built the Shrine. It was constructed on the same site as the former church. It cost about $250,000.
The Shrine of St. Patrick is fashioned after the St. Patrick's Memorial Church of Four Masters in Donegal, Ireland. The Church of Four Masters is named after the Four Masters or Annalists who wrote the Annals of the Four Masters between 1632-1636. Most of the early Irish history had been lost so four Franciscan Monks in Donegal compiled the ancient Gaelic history of their country. These men were Michael O'Clery, Petegrine O'Clery, Fearfeasa O'Mulconry, and Petegrine O'Duignan.
The Shrine is Celtic in design- semi-circular recessed doorways, central rose window, Celtic crosses, and a round bell tower that is native to Ireland. The round tower has a circular stairway leading to the choir loft. It replaces the ladder used in Irish churches.
When the Irish Monks were in danger they went to the top of the tower and pulled the ladder up after them. Their enemies to harm them, must either starve them or burn them out. There is a full basement under the Shrine.
The exterior stone wall pattern is stone-rubble squared . This stone is grey granite from Lannon, Wisconsin. This stone was shipped to Canton, Missouri in coal cars and brought to St. Patrick by the Whiston Construction Company. Bedford stone is used around the doors and windows.
Ernest Stone of the Hamilton Marble and Tile Company, Hamilton, Illinois made and installed all the altars and communion rail in 1956. The marble was supplied by Carthage Marble Corporation, Carthage, Missouri. The main altar and St. Patrick's altar were made of Forest Green marble mined in the Aosta Valley in northwest Italy. "The quarry is located high above the central part of the valley on a strange projection that sticks out like a balcony from the almost vertical flank of a mountain." Workmen climb up a narrow footpath (it takes two hours) and remain for 15 days. Working materials are brought up by cable. Blocks of Forest Green marble go down the mountainside at angles of 45 to 80 degrees on wooden sledges controlled by steel cables. The distance to cover is 1,500 yards - time required is six to eight hours.
A relic of St. Patrick was placed in the main altar. The two side altars are Loredo Chiara marble from Italy. The communion rail is Rojo Alicante marble from Alicante, Spain. This marble is light copper with overtones of pink, rust, and terra cotta.
Probably the most impressive features of the Shrine of St. Patrick are the 37 stained glass windows made by the State Glass Company in Dublin, Ireland. They were designed from the Book of Kells- one of the most beautiful illuminated manuscripts in the world.
The Book of Kells is on display in the Long Room at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. On the south side of the Shrine (from front) are: St. Pius X, St. Louis, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. Anne, St. Francis Cabrini, St. Paul, St. Therese, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Agnes, St. Anthony, and St. Peter. On the north side (from rear) are: St. Cecilia, St. James, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Christopher, St. Boniface, and St. Nicholas. There is a side chapel in special honor of St. Patrick.
A life size statue of St. Patrick stands on the altar- with a shamrock in his hand and snakes at his feet. Legend tells us he used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity and he drove the snakes out of Ireland. Stained glass windows of St. Columcille, Irish Missionary St. Laurence O'Toole, Bishop of Ireland St. Brigid, patroness of Ireland and St. Patrick, patron of Ireland, are in the side chapel.
St. John is at the bottom of the stairway at the north side entrance. The first room of the sacristy has a window of St. J. B Vianny Cured'ars and the Mass servers dressing room has a window of St. Aloysious de Gonzaga. In the small room, off the main altar, is St. Margaret Mary. The window of St. Michael the Archangel, St. Philomena, and John the Baptist are located to the left of the main entrance. The Confessional has a window of St. Vincent de Paul. St. Joseph and Mary and Jesus are two windows in the Shrine Museum. Even the bell tower has stained glass windows - St. Maria Goretti, St. Joan of Arc, and Blessed Oliver Plunkett (now St.)
Probably the most impressive window of all is the "rose window" over the main entrance. It has a picture of St. Patrick in the center and symbols of Ireland's four provinces surround it. The provinces are Ulster, Leinster, Munster, and Connaught. Anna Waples in memory of her Aunt Anna McDermott who was the priest's housekeeper for many years donated the window.
The Most Rev. Joseph Marling, Bishop of Jefferson City, Missouri, dedicated the beautiful shrine of St. Patrick March 17, 1957. Father Francis O'Duignan and his brothers, Father Michael O'Duignan and Father Denis O'Duignan, offered the Solemn High Mass of Dedication. Father Francis O'Duignan had a History of St. Patrick booklet printed for the dedication.
In 1957, the Catholic Church at Wayland, Missouri became a mission of St. Patrick. It had been a mission of St . Michael's, Kahoka, Missouri, for many years.
Father Francis O'Duignan was transferred to another parish in the fall of 1957- not being allowed to enjoy his beloved church for very long after laboring 22 years to build it.
Father John Vandenberghe was the pastor for a few months in late 1957 and early 1958.
For the 1957-58 school year, the Sisters taught high school students in the Shrine basement. Folding walls divided it into rooms.
Father Joseph O'Rourke came as pastor in 1958. In January 1958, nearly all grade school students transferred to the parochial school. In the 1958-59 school year, the grade school children returned to the public school, but the high school remained parochial. In the school year of 1961-62, the Sisters did not return and the high school students transferred to Kahoka High School, Kahoka, Missouri. School districts in southern Clark County combined into the CCR-1School District in 1965. The grade school continued at St. Pa trick until the year of 1967-68 when all students went to Kahoka to the CCR-1 School. Another era was finished with the closing of the school.
Rabbit Ridge schoolhouse, which had been used for a music building, was no longer needed so Redmond Raleigh tore it down.
Father Patrick Mel Newman came in 1967 and died in 1968 while still pastor. Father Elmo Kurtz from Quincy, Illinois, and Father Thomas Gray of Canton, Missouri came for services during Father Newman's illness and after his death.
During the summer of 1968 and 1969, St. Martha's Catholic Church in Wayland, Missouri became a mission of St. Michael's, Kahoka, Missouri, again.
Father Senan O'Connell was appointed pastor in 1968. The main altar in the Shrine was removed and replaced by a table made from the marble altar. This change allowed the priest to face the people during Mass.
Another change came to the village of St. Patrick. Laveta Logsdon, Postmaster for 21 years, resigned in November, 1970. During her years as Postmaster, the greatest volume of mail had arrived to be postmarked on March 17- still with a hand cancel. Laveta Logsdon recalls some of the highlights of her career. In 1957, Dadant & Sons, Hamilton, Illinois, brought 27,000 letters, in the back of a pickup truck, to be shamrocked and post marked . The Shamrock Restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri, sent 1,500 letters the same year. A St. Louis man, Robert J. O'Reilly, averaged 2,500 letters per year. The volume of mail was about 40,000 letters. The post office was made a Third Class Post Office in 1957 and Anna Uhlmeyer was the clerk. When Laveta Logsdon resigned, Anna Uhlmeyer Logsdon became OIC (Officer in Charge) November 30, 1970 and was appointed Post master July 17, 1971. She was the daughter-in-law of Laveta Logsdon and the post office remained in the store.
The convent was no longer used, so David Hartwig tore it down in 1972.
Father Senan O'Connell went to Rome, Italy for further study in the fall of 1972 and returned to our parish in December 1972. On January 14, 1973, Father O'Connell was killed in an auto accident. A native of Ireland, he wanted to be buried in the parish he was serving at the time of his death. He is buried in the St. Patrick cemetery. During Father O'Connell's absence and following his death, Father John Walsh, Kahoka, Missouri and Father James Wheeler of Quincy, Illinois, (the only boy from St. Patrick parish to become a priest) had services in our parish.
Father Fred Yehle came to our parish on April13, 1973. The tall, white haired, smiling priest (long past retirement age) soon endeared himself to almost everyone in the parish.
Mr. Thompson tore down the school. Many students had received their education in the venerable old building, but its usefulness was over. The St. Patrick statue had outlasted the niche where it was placed as predicted. Tom Rossi placed the statue on a high base on a grassy knoll in front of the Shrine. Later, two dusk to dawn lights were put there by the efforts of Wayne Wheeler. The community felt the loss when Father Yehle retired and moved to Jefferson City, Missouri, Sept. 17, 1979.
The 1979, Postmaster Anna Logsdon obtained a special green pictorial postmark that was used on March 17 only. She also had a special March 17 envelope printed that she sold.
For the first time in 133 years, we were without a resident pastor. St. Patrick had to depend upon a neighboring parish to share its priest, instead of St. Patrick providing a priest for others as they had done for many years. Father Gerald Kaimann of Canton, Missouri, served as a temporary pastor, although he had two parishes of his own. H wanted a History of St. Patrick printed for the 25th Anniversary of the Shrine of St. Patrick Father Kaimann asked Ellen Krueger to write it.
Father P. J. Cletus came to our parish as a resident pastor in September, 19 0. He was formerly of Allapply Diocese, Kersala State, India. He organized a St. Vincent de Paul Society for the welfare of needy people. He was interested in the parish youth and organized a CYO. He was transferred to Jefferson City, Missouri, July 15, 1981.
Again, we were without a resident pastor. Father Gerald Kaimann was appointed pastor, along with his other two parishes- Canton and LaGrange. Sister Roberta Westrick, Sisters of Charity, came as our first Pastoral Minister in the fall of 1981 to aid in all three parishes. She lived in the St. Patrick Rectory.
The St. Patrick statue had been devoid of paint for many years. Rose Moore (formerly of the parish), an art teacher in Mercer, Missouri, painted the statue and restored it to its former beauty in 1981.
A History of St. Patrick, written by Ellen Krueger, was published in December, 1981 and reprinted in the summer of 1982.
A new business, St. Patrick Meat Processors, Inc., held its grand opening July 25, 1982. It was located 11/2 miles NE of St. Patrick on Dempsey Highway. The owners and operators were Mr. and Mrs. Bill Richmond and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Allen.
Anna Logsdon resigned as Postmaster in March, 1983. Kae Parker of Canton, Missouri, was appointed Officer-in-Charge. The post office hours were cut from eight to four hours a day. Curtis Kirchner was appointed Postmaster in November 1983. There had been a March 17 pictorial postmark since Anna Logsdon had obtained the first one in 1979. Curtis Kirchner had a pictorial postmark approved for March 17, 1984 and had a postal sub-station in the Shrine basement, during dinner, for the first time. The Shrine of St. Patrick sponsored the pictorial cancel. The Shrine of St. Patrick sold its first specially designed March 17 envelope.
In the fall of 1984, the area churches re-grouped. Canton, LaGrange, and Ewing were placed together. St. Patrick was grouped with Kahoka and Wayland. Father Robert Duesdieker became our pastor and lived in Kahoka, Missouri.
A new business, Old Irish Antique Shop, owned and operated by Marcia Hardin and Myrna Daughtry, opened October 20, 1984.1twas in the restored 1914John N. Kirchner Store building. They are great granddaughters of J. N. Kirchner.
The Allens left the St. Patrick Meat Processors November 1,1984 and the Richmonds became the sole owners.
In December, 1984, Postmaster Curtis Kirchner (great grandson of J. N. Kirchner) moved the post office to the former J. N. Kirchner Store building. The post office had been in that building from 1920-1940. The first shamrock cachet had gone through the mail from this building. Curtis Kirchner donated an insert to be placed in the March 17 Shrine envelope in 1985. Curtis Kirchner resigned as Postmaster November 8, 1985. Mary Walker was Acting Postmaster. She was appointed Postmaster May 10, 1986.
Father Francis O'Duignan was retired and living in California. The Shrine of St. Patrick was without a resident pastor and the March 17 mailings at the post office had decreased the past years as people forgot about St. Patrick. Father O'Duignan asked Ellen Krueger to increase the Shrine publicity as he didn't want "his church" to be closed. An increase in publicity could never have been accomplished without the help of Father Robert Duesdieker who helped in so many ways. His interest and dedication to the parish were greatly appreciated.
The first green brochures were printed in February, 1986- to be given away to help people become more aware of St. Patrick. A page was purchased in the ILIAMO Travel Guide for the first time. The 1986 Shrine envelope honored Father O'Duignan. The insert was written and donated by Ellen Krueger.
The sale of March 17 envelopes produced a volume of mail. A St. Patrick post office box was rented by Ellen Krueger to accommodate it.
Rose Moore donated her time and re-painted the St. Patrick statue in the summer of 1986.
Sister Roberta was replaced by Sister Mary Runde (Sisters of Notre Dame) as Pastoral Minister on August 1, 1986.
Pat Riney placed the school cornerstone on one side of the St. Patrick statue in the summer of 1987. The 1903 church cornerstone had been placed on the reverse side of the 1860 church cornerstone. He placed this stone on the opposite side of the statue.
The added publicity helped to interest people in St. Patrick. Newspaper reporters, TV coverage, radio interview, St. Louis tour busses, visitors, OATS and other vans, etc., were visible on March 17 during the day. A breakfast and lunch were served to accommodate the day time crowd- previously only an evening meal was served. Many tours are scheduled throughout the year. Several women's clubs and tour busses have toured the Shrine and ate lunch there. A national Model T tour, representing 23 states, visited St. Patrick and toured the Shrine in 1987.
Students from the University of Missouri campus at Rolla, Missouri, visited in March, 1988. They were dressed as St. Patrick and his court. Jason Richmond (seven years old), dressed as a leprechaun, was appointed Mayor for the day. Rolla students had wanted their picture taken with the Pas or and the Mayor, and naturally, a small village didn't have a Mayor. Father Robert Duesdieker, Pastor, proclaimed Jason Richmond as Honorary Mayor for that day and for March 17. Thanks to Leo Henning, WGEM Radio, Quincy Illinois, sent its mobile unit to broadcast from St. Patrick for the first time. Bob Joye interviewed local people and talked to Msgr. Francis O'Duignan in California and Tommy Murphy, a radio presenter, in Ireland.
Street signs were erected in St. Patrick following the 1854 Plat Map in the spring of 1988. Mary, Scott, and Jackson Street signs were erected. Harrison and Clark streets no longer exist. Father O'Duignan had named the street leading to the rectory Erin Avenue. Father Robert Duesdieker named the semi-circle drive in front of the Shrine Erin Circle. These two streets did not exist in 1854, but we erected signs for them also. Thelma (Katy) Curfman furnished the Plat Map and the idea. Nancy Kirchner donated the boards, Bill Ryan painted the signs, Kenny Krueger donated the pipe, and Katy Curfman and the Krueger family erected them.
Sister Mary Runde left the parish June 30, 1988 and was replaced by Sister Alma Maria Van Buren, a Dominican. Sister Mary had begun plans for a Shrine Museum, developing an idea suggested by Father John Walsh. Sister Alma-Maria and Ellen Krueger carried on with her plans. The Museum was opened in the fall of 1988.
A Shrine of St. Patrick sign was placed above the Dempsey Highway sign at the junction of Highway 61 and Route Z on Dempsey Highway. In 2016 this sign was replaced.
March 17, 1989 was of special interest to the community of St. Patrick. Tommy Murphy, a radio presenter from Ballina, Cotmty Mayo, Ireland, was a special guest in St. Patrick. Leo Henning arranged for Tommy Murphy to come to the Tri-State area March 10 through March 20. At the same time, Mr. and Mrs. Leo Henning would be in Ireland. This cultural exchange had WGEM Radio carrying reports from Ireland to America and from America to Ireland for this 10-day period. GEM Country 105 FM radio broadcast from St. Patrick from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00p.m. on March 17. Bob Joye, Tammy O'Neil, and Tommy Murphy interviewed local people and visitors throughout the da y.
Five tour buses came from St. Louis for the first time on March 17, 1990. Tommy Murphy and WGEM broadcast to Ireland throughout the day.
Mary Walker resigned as Postmaster on May 18, 1990. Mary Ann Barnes was Office-in-Charge.
Father Robert Duesdieker left the parish August 1, 1990. Many repairs and improvements were made during his years as pastor. His interest in publicity and the parish was much like the philosophy of Father O'Duignan- he wanted to leave St. Patrick a better place than he found it. Father Robert Kurwicki replaced him. Harriet Johnson was a p pointed Postmaster December 1, 1990.
The festivities, coverage, and visitors continued to grow on March 17. In 1991, St. Patrick was the "Town of the Week" on WGEM-TV, Quincy, Illinois and was mentioned on the Today Show by Willard Scott. Father Hugh Behan, editor of the Catholic Missourian , the newspaper of the Diocese of Jefferson City, spent the day in St. Patrick. KMEM Radio of Memphis, Missouri, gives us extensive coverage every year.
The parish was sad to learn of the death of Msgr. Francis O'Duignan in June, 1991. Rose Moore donated her time and talent and repainted the St. Patrick statue in September, 1991.
Father Michael Murphy came as our pastor February 7, 1992, replacing Father Robert Kurwicki.
In the summer of 1992, the Shrine congregation realized how important our stained glass windows are to the Shrine. They were removed for cleaning and repairs and were out of the Shrine during most of June and July. How different the Shrine looked with the sunlight corning through the clear glass storm window instead of the vibrant colors of o u r stained glass.
Harriet Johnson resigned as Postmaster October 1, 1993. Fred Wiewel was Officer in-Charge until November 15, 1993 when he was replaced by Cathy Hunziker as Officer in-charge. On July 9, 1994, Richard Michael Lewis was appointed Postmaster. The DA R donated a new flag to the post office in an impressive ceremony October 21994.
Two of our stained glass windows had plaques listing their donor. On October 1994, donor name plaques were places on all the Shrine windows except one. The donor of the St. Maria Goretti window is unknown.
Changes were made with the March 17 pictorial cancel in 1996. Previously it could be. used only on March 17- now it could be used from March 1-17 with the date changing daily. How happy folks were that their St. Patrick's Day cards could ha ve the pictorial cancel and still arrive by March 17! In 1997, this was extended to March 1-30.
Street signs from the 1854 Plat Map had been erected in St. Patrick in 1988. They were replaced in July, 1996. The Kruegers donated the boards and paint for pole . Jeff Shuman donated paint, time and talent and painted the new street signs. Sister Alma Maria Van Buren, Pastoral Minister, left the parish July 1, 1996 and was not replaced .
St. Patrick was placed on the Internet for the first time. The pages are set up in County Mayo, Ireland and are widely read. This new form of publicity has become very popular.
Father O'Duignan had a shamrock medal he gave people who donated money to the Shrine building fund. The Shrine had many requests for this medal through the years. Our search was ended when a company was located in 1997 that made a reproduction of the 1950's shamrock medal for the Shrine to sell.
When the Shrine was dedicated in 1957, Father O'Duignan had an airplane drop shamrocks in St. Patrick. To help commemorate the Shrine's 40th anniversary, Jerry Davis of Canton, Missouri, dropped shamrocks from his plane on March 17, 1997. A St. Louis TV station sent reporters in a helicopter to video the "shamrock drop!"
More changes for the parish in July, 1998: Father Michael Murphy left our parish. The Shrine of St. Patrick was to be grouped with St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Canton, Missouri and · Notre Dame Catholic Church in LaGrange, Missouri, again. Father Tom Alber was our Sacrament Minister and Brother Francis Tyrrell became our first Pastoral Administrator. Father Tom Alber resides in Monroe City, Missouri, and Brother John Francis Tyrrell in Canton, Missouri.
March 17, 1999 was the l0th anniversary of the first visit of Tommy Murphy to St. Patrick on St. Patrick's Day. He was given a plaque in appreciation for his ten years of being Honorary Mayor of St. Patrick and coming from Ireland each year to celebrate with us. Tommy Murphy has radio shows in Ireland and America where he gives St. Patrick a lot of free publicity.
A brass plaque of St. Patrick (notation on it-T Boyle 1954-) had been in a storage cabinet for years. Its origin is unknown. Brother John Francis Tyrrell had it cleaned, framed, and hung on the Museum door. The Catherine Schutte Memorial Fund paid for a gravel road all around the St. Patrick cemetery. David and Greg Danker donated some land so the road could be built on the east side of the cemetery. An anonymous donor purchased a statue of Mary and a statue of the Sacred Heart to be placed in the cemetery.
The Jubilee Year of 2000! A New Century and a New Millennium. The Shrine of St. Patrick was designated as one of the 11 pilgrimage sites in the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri.
A new utility shed had been badly needed for many years. John Brennan began a campaign to collect funds for the shed. This white and green utility shed was completed in June, 2000.
Brother John Francis Tyrrell left as our Pastoral Administrator in October, 2000. Father Tom Alber remained as our pastor. Rev. Mr. Robert De Pyper replaced him in November, 2000. He is our first Deacon. Deacon De Pyper and his wife, Millie, came from St. Louis, Missouri and live in Canton, Missouri.
Dr. Ken Luebbering (Professor at Lincoln University) and his wife, Robyn Burnett, made two trips to St. Patrick photographing the stained glass windows in the Shrine. Their book, "Gospels in Glass- Stained Glass Windows in Missouri Churches" was published in November, 2000. How proud we are to be one of the 75 Missouri churches selected to have a window (Shrine- St. Brigid) included in this publication!
The Shine of St. Patrick fame continues to grow. Many national magazines - Mid west Living, National Geographic Traveler, Country America, Irish America, etc.- include items about March 17 in St. Patrick. Jim McCarty, editor of Rural Missouri, spent St. Patrick's Day in St. Patrick and had a large article in his magazine. The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, Iowa sent a reporter and photographer for the first time in many years. Local newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV are very generous with their coverage that pro motes St. Patrick. Leo Henning, General Manager of WGEM Radio & TV, Quincy, Illinois, brings a mobile radio unit to broadcast to Ireland and TV reporters on March 17.
The volume of mail continues to increase- over 20,000 letters from also states and many foreign countries were postmarked with the pictorial cancel in March, 2000 - all with a hand stamp. Thousands of specially designed envelopes and postcards are sold each year. Artists donate their time designing and drawing the envelope and pictorial postmark.
The Shrine of St. Patrick sponsors the pictorial postmark and sells the envelopes. Artists drawing these since 1985 are Tom Junkins, Bill Richmond, Aaron Watson, Gene Johnson, and an artist that asked to remain anonymous. Many people donate souvenirs to be sold by the Shrine. Other people help with sales, cachet envelopes, type, make copies, deliver posters, donate game prizes, prepare special Irish music, tour guides, and the list goes on. So many people- so much time and talent- donated to the Shrine of St. Patrick. Truly, St. Patrick has blessed the people of our parish.
The passing of the years has changed the village of St. Patrick. Many businesses, too numerous to mention, have come and gone. There have been barbershops, garages, oil trucks, service stations, taverns, blacksmith shops, grocery stores, trucking firms, etc. Gone also is the school and convent- only the church remains as the central part of the community.
The people of the parish still celebrate St. Patrick's Day ,on the Sunday closest to St. Patrick's Day, a day filled with fun, Leprechauns, food, games, Mass, conclusion of the Novena, music, tours, and visitors. St. Patrick is known all over the world for its unique name - Father O'Duignan made it a name to remember.
The Shrine of St. Patrick stands in majestic splendor- the fulfillment of an Irishman's "impossible dream" and a living memorial of the faith our Irish ancestors brought here so many years ago. The statue of St. Patrick keeps its silent and eternal vigil over the Shrine of St. Patrick and the people of the parish today.
May the name of St. Patrick live forever!
Pastor c/o St. Michaels Church
622 West Exchange
Kahoka, MO 63445
The Real Story Of Saint Patrick
He was a British interloper named Maewyn Succat. He was never officially sanctified by the Catholic church. He likely never referred to green shamrocks, in fact, his commemorative color was blue. And his feast day originally meant abstinence from drink and certainly no parades. How did he become the symbol of Ireland, the namesake of some of the most raucous officially sanctioned celebrations around the world, and, above all, require even non-Irish people to wear green?
Without the Irish diaspora to the new world, Saint Patrick would likely have remained a minor religious figure with some special meaning for his adopted native land of Ireland, but very little significance elsewhere. But a combination of verifiable facts which Patrick recorded himself, legend which cropped up in the centuries after his March 17, 461 death, and the Irish tendency to stretch the truth just a bit has led Saint Patrick to become one of the best-known figures in Catholic church history.
From his writings, we learn that Patrick was kidnapped from his British home by Irish pirates and forced into servitude in Ireland when he was young. A message from God led to his rescue and made him return to the island of his captivity some years later, this time as a Catholic priest, to answer a call to tame the pagans and bring them to Catholicism. He claimed to have converted thousands of pagans and founded hundreds of churches before dying on March 17.
Not until years later did the Catholic church create a formal process for sainthood. Until then, beatification was a mostly local affair, and the Irish claimed Patrick a saint not long after his death. He was never formally canonized.
Legends grew around the mysterious figure of Patrick. The claim that he drove all of the snakes out of the Emerald Isle was just patently false—the ice age and surrounding frigid waters actually did the trick. His traditional use of the shamrock, or three-leaf clover, to explain the Catholic belief of God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, separate but whole, sounds great but no evidence exists that it's true. When Patrick was depicted in the early days, he wore blue, not green—the green of Saint Patrick’s day and Ireland most likely derived either from the Shamrock myth, Irish emigrant memories of their lush green homeland, or both.
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Like many saints, Patrick’s death date became his feast day. Since he was the minor saint of a devout people, and his feast day usually occurs during the 40-day Lenten fast, his commemoration was originally a subdued, religious affair. Pubs were closed, and no meat was allowed to be eaten. Until the 1970s, Ireland never held Saint Patrick’s Day parades, and barely acknowledged the day at all, except to attend Mass.
Enter America, where nearly 1/3 of the Irish emigrated during the diaspora of the 1840s. The Irish in America were numerous, proud, and oppressed. They tended to concentrate in East Coast cities, and, if they were men, in the bars and pubs of those cities. Irish association with drinking in the popular culture had less to do with actual habits and more to do with the concern that the non-Irish ruling class had over the increasing political power of the Irish, which they consolidated by meeting in pubs, churches, and social clubs.
The commemoration of the patron saint of their home country of Ireland became a logical event for the American Irish diaspora to celebrate. As the celebrations grew more popular, local Lenten rules were relaxed for the American Irish so that they were given dispensation to drink and even eat meat like corned beef during the Lenten fast. This dispensation became a little like Mardis Gras’s “get out of jail free” card before the solemnity of Lent.
Thus was born the tradition of the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. The celebrations became so widespread that by the 1970s, they had been exported back to the mother country of Ireland herself, which now celebrates the feast day of her native son in much the same way as Americans.
This year, with so many celebrations canceled or reduced for the second year in a row, think of the original solemn feast of good old Maewyn Succat, who tamed the hordes and became a legend in the process. Maybe next year, we’ll all be able to wear the green, pop on a “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” button, and say Erin Go Bragh as we stumble down 5th Avenue arm in arm with our fellow (vaccinated) revelers. Faith and Begorroah, that would be a dream.