An Irish festivity that Florence is preparing to celebrate. It is St. Patrick’s Day, a very special occa- sion to connect locals with the in- creasing foreign community, prev- alently English speaking, living in or just visiting the city.
But do Florentines, and generally Italians, really celebrate this festivity in the proper way? Well, the best answer to the question is that only few Italians do celebrate it while the number of Florentines taking the opportunity for a night of party out is constantly increas- ing, maybe due to the particular kind of city they live in where English often seems to be the first spoken language and Italian the second. Yet, and of course, Floren- tines do not celebrate St. Patrick’s the same way as the Irish or the Irish-Americans do. Yet, St. Pat- rick of Ireland is one of the world’s most popular saints. He was born in Roman Britain and when he was a teenager 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 in his memoir, The Confes- sion, 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 go- ing to the coast. There he found ricus, 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, 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 sev- eral 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 Gos- pel throughout Ireland. There, he converted many people -eventual-
ly thousands – and he began build- ing churches across the country. 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.
The Dublin Pub in Via Faenza is organizing a special party to cele- brate a Florentine St. Patrick’s Day.