David Plotz tackles St. Paddy:
The scarcity of facts about St. Patrick's life has made him a dress-up doll: Anyone can create his own St. Patrick. Ireland's Catholics and Protestants, who have long feuded over him, each have built a St. Patrick in their own image. Catholics cherish Paddy as the father of Catholic Ireland. They say that Patrick was consecrated as a bishop and that the pope himself sent him to convert the heathen Irish. (Evidence is sketchy about both the bishop and pope claims.) One of the most popular Irish Catholic stories holds that Patrick bargained with God and got the Big Fella to promise that Ireland would remain Catholic and free.
Ireland's Protestant minority, by contrast, denies that Patrick was a bishop or that he was sent by Rome. They depict him as anti-Roman Catholic and credit him with inventing a distinctly Celtic church, with its own homegrown symbols and practices. He is an Irish hero, not a Catholic one.
(Image by Flickr user tochis)
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