The most wonderful thing has happened to me! I've had people from other countries view my blog: Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Germany, Brazil, Colombia. But, for the first time, sometime between about 6:00 p.m. yesterday and noon today, someone from IRELAND looked at my blog! I've told you about the fact that my next book is set in 17th-century Ireland, and that I've immersed myself in research and am trying to even learn a bit of Gaelic. But I haven't mentioned that my obsession with things Irish is of long standing. How can I help it? These are people who open their mouths, and poetry falls out. I was born to parents of Russian-Polish descent with the misleading surname of Brody, and eventually, enough people asked me whether I was Irish for me to start believing that I actually was. I was definitely the only girl in my Jewish parochial high school who made a point of wearing green each St. Patrick's Day. Years later, I even went so far as to marry a man named Eagan the first time around. So perhaps, knowing all this, you can now understand what a magical confluence of events it seemed to me when someone from Ireland happened on my blog, on or about St. Patrick's Day.
To commemorate this occasion, I've decided to blog about St. Patrick. The source for all the information I'm about to share is Thomas Cahill's incredible book, "How the Irish Saved Civilization." They did, as a matter of fact, but that was centuries after St. Patrick lived and died, and it's revealed in a whole different part of the book than the section that discusses Patrick, the man. Patricius, as he was known when he was growing up, a British citizen of the Roman empire, was kidnapped at age 16 and sold into slavery to an Irish tribal king. He had been more or less an atheist up to then, but the deprivations of his life as an underfed, underclothed slave/shepherd in an isolated outpost of a foreign country turned his thoughts to prayer. Six years later, as he slept, a voice told him that it was time for him to escape, and that his ship was ready. Following the voice, Patricius walked 200 miles to an ocean inlet where he saw a cargo ship being loaded. At first rejected by the sailors, Patricius prayed to God, and before he had finished, he heard the sailors calling for him to come on board.
After performing a miracle for the sailors en route, Patricius returned home, but again a vision came to him in his sleep. He heard an Irish multitude begging him to "come and walk among us once more." The visions persised, and Patrick followed the voices to Gaul, where he joined a monastery and began to prepare for his ordination. After a grueling experience (his education had been interrupted when he was first kidnapped, and he had little theological background or formal Latin training) he received his ordination and became, in Cahill's words, "virtually the first missionary bishop in history" - to Ireland.
And there I will leave Patrick for now, because my husband and I are going to take our dogs (Murphy and Finnegan, as it happens) for a hike in the nearby Reservation, but I will post a Part II after we return.