By Lydia O’Kane
St Patrick’s Day in Ireland and around the world will be like no other this year. The day which celebrates Ireland’s Patron Saint is usually a vibrant spectacle of the country’s culture and tradition.
But due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, Ireland’s pubs are closed and the famous parade on Dublin’s O’Connell Street has been cancelled.
Despite the fact that this year’s celebration will be more muted than usual, landmarks in 50 countries around the world will still be “going green” for the occasion including, the Sydney Opera House and the London Eye.
Church bells on St Patrick’s Day
The Church in Ireland is also making sure its Patron Saint is remembered. On Tuesday following morning Mass, Church bells rang out across the country as “a reminder of the faith that has sustained the people of our island throughout the centuries.” Shamrocks, which symbolize the Holy Trinity, were also blessed in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral.
In his message for St Patrick’s Day, the Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin invited people, especially at this worrying time, to recite the prayer of Saint Patrick, “known as his 'breastplate' prayer, in which he invited Christ to surround him with love and protection.”
Speaking to Vatican News, the Bishop of Derry in Northern Ireland, Donal McKeown said, we have much to learn from St Patrick.
“St Patrick was a man who brought good news to a country that was in crisis in his own time”. “He has a huge message to give us that is very relevant about where we are at present.” “I think he would speak against any attempt to globalize superficiality which really is behind so much of our modern culture… and I think he would ask us to rediscover the spirituality that drove him.”
St Patrick’s Day post-Brexit
This is the first St Patrick’s Day being marked post-Brexit and Bishop McKeown, acknowledging the uncertainly hanging over people in Northern Ireland, noted that “what St Patrick did was to say that when we have our hearts renewed by the power of Christ we can face all the challenges that come our way.”
A time of Solidarity
As the Coronavirus forces people to self-isolate and take other precautions against the disease, the Bishop said, that in his diocese, their job is to make sure that the churches are open as much as possible and find all sorts of electronic means for getting into people’s homes in order for them to pray.
Many Irish people will be away from home or won’t be able to get home due to the Coronavirus outbreak and Bishop McKeown had a greeting for all those who feel Irish, even if it’s only for one day.
“I send a word of greeting on this St Patrick’s Day to all those who feel Irish or that little bit Irish wherever it might be they are in the world; some choosing to be in different countries; some feeling lost or trapped away from home at this time.”
St Patrick’s Breastplate prayer:
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.