Many of us grew up with the tales of Patrick the Irish hero-saint who drove the snakes from Ireland, who is celebrated every March 17th with green beer and shamrocks. Problem is, nothing about that myth is literally true.
Patrick was not his original name, it was Maewyn Succat. He wasn't Irish, but a Briton born in a Roman town, now believed to be in the Cumbria England region. There is no scientific evidence that slithering reptiles have ever inhabited Ireland. And to top it off, he was never actually officially canonized by the Vatican. Calling him a saint was merely an honorific bestowed by regional Catholic/ Roman authorities as a further political power move against the Celts and their spiritual leaders, the Druids.
Let's be clear, back in the day -- which is vaguely assumed to be the 5th century CE, but no one knows for sure -- there was little to no separation between Catholic authority and Roman power. The Roman army conquered as much by war as by co-opting and imposing Christianity on the many peoples of Europe and into Turkey in the Near East and Northern Africa. When civilizations fell to Roman rule, they also ipso facto fell to Christian beliefs, at least on the surface, in order to survive.
The Roman army retreated from the British Isles in the early 5th century. This was the beginning of the Dark Ages and successive invasions by the Saxons and the Vikings throughout what is now Great Britain until the Frankish conquering by William and his crew in 1066. During this period the Catholic clergy remained strong in Ireland and are credited with the first recorded histories -- but only because those were written in Latin, the language of the Romans and the church. The period prior to the 400s CE came to be called "proto-historic" for the Irish /Druid use of the the Ogham inscriptions.
Nonetheless, Patrick symbolizes the systematic destruction of the Celtic culture and the loss of nearly all Druidic wisdom. For that, March 17 is a day to mourn.
And perhaps it is a day to reflect on the notion of being a spiritual warrior, and the potential for unintended dark side consequences when any of us take up a campaign of what we might feel is enlightened education but which to others could be the erasure of a cherished spiritual philosophy and way of life.
I wonder about the karmic consequences, too. Can it ever be right to turn a people against their ancient beliefs, or use force to convert a nation into adopting rites and rituals that do not come from their own ancestral experiences? Would participating in such actions for the sake of political power or military might grow one's soul, or stunt soul growth?
Ardent beliefs must be examined once in a while to prevent them from becoming destructive to others as well as to oneself. By all means, we should freely share our beliefs, but sharing should not mean imposing, and replacing the practices and spiritual precepts of others. The Church in all its denominational forms was, is, and ever will be wrong in making that their mission, for it is soul killing for all concerned.