On the eve of St. Patrick’s Day and having come across a letter to the editor in the Western Mail from George Brinley Evans, I think it’s appropriate to pay homage to a revered and venerated saint of the Early Celtic Christian Church. Besides all the parades to be marched and pint glasses of heady brews to be lifted to celebrate the day on which St. Patrick died, there will be another ceremony.
This commemorative event will take place in the village where St. Patrick was born, in Banwen, near Castell Nedd (Neath), in the Dulais Valley, near Abertawe (Swansea). He was the son of a propsperous merchant in a part of Wales renown for its contribution to the Industrial Revolution.
At about 16 years of age, Patrick and his sister were captured and enslaved by Irish marauders. He spent many years in Ireland as a shepherd. He escaped to his home in Cymru (Wales) and studied in Llydaw (Brittany) before being ordained and travelling to Rome. After his ordination as a bishop, he returned to Ireland to carry on his personal mission of sheltering the homeless and feeding the hungry.
A standing stone at the side of the Roman road, Sarn Helen, in Banwen commemorates the courage and bravery of this famous Cymro (Welshman), whose dedication and humility are celebrated throughout the world. A service at the site of the stone will be attended by villagers and eminent compatriots.
For more information about St. Patrick, Black Lab Books (New York) are publishing Thomas John Clark’s The Chronicles of St. Patrick in chapter-length editions. For a fictionalized story, Stephen Lawhead’s Patrick is intense and comprehensive.