By Deborah Castellano Lubov
While St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are taking place around the world, the President of the Irish Bishops, Archbishop Eamon Martin, takes us back to the much-loved saint, and offers us his Irish blessing.
Archbishop, how would you describe the importance to the Irish people and Catholics of Saint Patrick’s Day?
“I’m speaking here from Armagh, which is the ecclesiastical see of Saint Patrick. And it is believed that it was here, in my cathedral church, on this place, that Patrick established his foundational church,” Archbishop Martin told Deborah Castellano Lubov of Vatican News.
“For all the Irish people, it’s a great day to link up with the Irish all over the world. Saint Patrick is really a saint for the whole world.
“In fact, I read somewhere recently that apart from Saint James the Apostle, and Our Lady, there are probably more churches dedicated to Saint Patrick throughout the world than any other saint, and we’re very proud of that here in Ireland, of course,” the archbishop said.
“But in saying that he is a saint for all the world, I’m not just talking about links and connectedness with Saint Patrick.
“I genuinely think that Saint Patrick is a saint for the modern day, because when we read his writings, we realise that he as a young teenager was trafficked to Ireland.
“In fact, when he returned to Ireland much later in his life as a bishop, he spoke out against the trafficking of his newly converted Christians who were being kidnapped and taken away into slavery. So along with Saint Josephine Bakhita, he is a perfect patron for those who are human trafficked in the world today.”
Archbishop Martin added that, in this 10th year of the pontificate of Pope Francis, he was very conscious of the Holy Father’s concern for the victims of trafficking.
“He has asked us all to listen out for the cry of the poor, the cry of the migrant, the cry of the earth. And we could include in that also the cry of the trafficked, the cry of those who are being displaced due to war and violence,” said Archishop Martin.
“I think in all of those people, they find in Saint Patrick, somebody who could have empathy and understanding of the predicament of the modern world. He’s truly a saint for the modern world and a saint for the whole world.
“In Irish, we use an Irish blessing for Saint Patrick’s Day. Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh ar fad. ‘May the blessings of Saint Patrick’s Day be with you all.”