Archive for the ‘Ireland’ Category

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches I always like to share the true origins of the man whom this day honors.  Today’s Perfect Picture Book choice does just that.

Some years ago when I was principal at our Christian school I was dismayed by the children’s lack of knowledge at the true man behind the holiday.  Sadly, the group of kids I spoke with  all thought it was just a day to ‘drink green beer and party.’  You can read more about that sometimes humorous discussion here.

So in the spirit of seeking the truth and sharing it here is my PPB choice this week.  You may learn a wee bit more–then  you can share it  too.

Title: St. Patrick’s DaySt. Patrick's Day (Best Holiday Books)

Author:   Dorothy Rhodes Freeman

Publisher: Enslow Elementary Publishers 2008

Genre:  Non-Fiction

Audience Age: 6 & Up

Themes/Topics: Holidays, St. Patrick

Sentences from the book: “When Patrick was 16 his life changed.  He was kidnapped. . . the ship sailed to Ireland.  He prayed through snow, through frost, through rain.

Synopsis: The true life of St. Patrick is described accompanied by gorgeous photographs of  Ireland,  its landmarks and its people.  Also included are chapters on some of Ireland’s traditions and legends, foods, dancing and even native dogs.

Why I like it:  It tells the truth about who  St. Patrick is and why the day is celebrated.    We see a young man who could have been bitter about his capture and toward the people who took him.  Instead, we find Patrick returning years later to teach the same people about the love of God.   A photograph  of Patrick’s actual writing is shown.  In it Patrick says he did not hate the raiders who snatched him from his family, “I have mercy on the people who once took me captive.”

St. PatrickPatrick’s true life was about hardship, accepting God in his life, following God’s will and forgiving the people who hurt him.  The book  tells this story.    The book explains  how he returned to Ireland even though, ‘daily [he] expected murder, fraud or captivity,’ and started over 300 churches and converted thousands to Christianity. There were many miracles attributed to him. The Catholic church made him a saint and established his date of death as a ‘holy day’  [holiday].  The book explains the true nature of March 17th  not being about partying, parades and leprechauns, but about the life of a godly man.

However, the book does include chapters on fun things like leprechauns, shamrocks, fun Irish traditions and a glossary of Irish words at the end.

Saul Church in Ireland

The photographs are rich and varied, showing ancient castle ruins, Saul church, one of the first churches founded by St. Patrick, Irish dancers, and traditional foods.

Activities/Resources:    Ask questions about how it must have felt to be taken away from family. Talk about how Patrick could have been angry, but chose to forgive the ones who took him.  Discuss why Patrick wanted to go back to Ireland.  Also, what would it be like to be a missionary in a different country where people did not want him.

There are numerous internet resources for St. Pat’s word searches & games, but my favorite link includes a list of discussion questions (for Younger and older children).  They follow after the videos of Irish music. This link also gives info on not only St. Patrick, but the various symbols and heritage of Ireland.


 The book itself has a list of resources and links at the end.

Availability: Major bookstores.

St. Patrick was a man who loved God and showed God’s love to others.  It is a good thing to recognize the life of a devout, Christian man and not just associate the day with parties and parades.     Each year since I’ve been enlightened, I try to share the real story so others will know.

(Susanna Leonard Hill is the originator of PPBF and you can find all the other PPB recommendations and links  on her blog.)

Blessings on your day and enjoy the book!

Laura (Grandmamiller)


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I am Irish and I am a Christian.   My great-grandfather lived near Belfast, Ireland and immigrated to the U.S. in the 1890’s.  I also have my grandmother’s curly Irish hair, as does my oldest daughter (thank’s Grandma). I have to admit that until recently I only had a vague notion of who St. Patrick was.  Now that I know,  I have to say,  I am embarrassed by the way St. Patrick’s day is recognized by the majority of our citizens.

I taught for 11 years in our church’s Christian School , the last 5 years I was also principal. When, out of my own curiosity, I researched St. Patrick,  I decided to share the information with our students during our chapel time.  I first asked the children, ranging in age from 3rd grade to 12th, what is the meaning of St. Patrick’s day?  One 4th grader said, “it’s when you go out and party and drink green beer .”  A wiser 5th grader said, “well, you only drink green beer if you’re Irish.”  The high school students determined it was just a day to party if you were Irish.

When I asked ‘who is St. Patrick?’ the same 4th grader said he was a leprechaun.  The high school students disagreed, saying he was somebody important, and one said he got rid of snakes in Ireland.  Unfortunately if you ask most adults, this is also what they will say.  The documented history of Patrick,  from the 5th century is sketchy, but what written history there is documents a life of dedication, a devout faith, and a life of service for the Lord.

You can easily do a search on St. Patrick, but here are the simple facts agreed upon by most historians:    Patrick was born in circa 387 a.d. in Roman Britain (Scotland). When Patrick was about 14 he was kidnapped from his home by Irish raiders.  He was taken to Ireland, a land of pagans and Druids and put into a life of slavery working as a shepherd.  It was here that he lived by his faith and trusted in God. It was a time of deprivation, suffering in the elements and being separated from family.   About six years later he had a vision from the Lord leading him to escape to the coast and sail back to Britain.   There he was reunited with family and later followed his faith and became a priest and eventually a bishop.

Patrick returned to the land that held him slave: (This part of his life puts me in reverent awe.)  After another vision he returned to Ireland to bring the Gospel of Salvation to the ‘heathens.’  He was the man that brought Christianity to Ireland.  Attempts were made on his life, but he had a fervor for the Lord that could not be quenched.  He was humble, gentle and totally devoted to God, pious and denying himself luxuries of fine living that were offered him.   He ministered in Ireland for nearly 40 years, thousands were converted including kings, queens and their families. He refused gifts and payment for services such as baptisms and ordinations, but lived in poverty and endured much suffering.   He is credited with many miracles of healing (snakes? there were never really any in Ireland).  It is also told he used a shamrock to help explain the Holy Trinity.  He died on March 17, 461, in Saul, where he had planted the first Christian church in Ireland.

St. Patrick should be a shining, godly example to each of us.  He loved God and showed God’s love to others.  It is a sad thing that the life of a devout, Christian man is now associated with a day of parties and drinking.     Each year since I’ve been enlightened, I try to retell his story, the real story to others who don’t know.  And this year I wrote a blog.   Now that you know, perhaps you can also tell his story, and plant a seed for the Lord and a remembrance of a holy life.

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