During the Comstock
mining days, most of the miners who came here to work in the mines were Irish,
Scotch, Welsh or Cornish. There were countless lively squabbles and skirmishes
among the different groups after hours in the local saloons.
If I had lived here in
those days, and made the assertion that Saint Patrick was Italian, I am
sure I would have had a fight on my hands. The fact is, the statement has
more truth than most people realize. I still don’t encourage anyone to enter an
Irish pub on Saint Patrick’s Day and proclaim that the Patron Saint
of Ireland was Italian. You would likely get your mouth washed out with green
beer and acquire some knuckle bumps on your head.
Contrary to popular belief,
Patrick was not born in Ireland. According to the Catholic Church,
he was born in Scotland or England about the year 389. His parents,
Calpurnius and Conchessa, were Roman citizens living in Britain assigned to
watch over Roman colonies in the British Isles. At age 14, Patrick was captured
during a raid and brought to Ireland. Six years later, he escaped to Britain
and reunited with his family.
Patrick’s travels took him to
Gaul (Roman France) and eventually to Rome (441-443). After having a
prophetic dream, he was ordained a priest in the Roman Catholic Church and
later, became a Bishop. Patrick then set out to take the Gospel to Ireland,
which at that time was a land of Druids and pagans. Patrick succeeded in
converting chieftains and entire kingdoms to the Catholic Faith, acquiring a
large following of disciples. for 40 years, patrick roamed ireland,
converting people wherever he went and building churches along the way. He
died in the year 461 at the age of 72.
It is believed that Patrick
took his name from the Roman word “Patrician,” which was what members of
the Roman hierarchy, or ruling class, called themselves. Many details of
Patrick’s life and travels are ambiguous and shrouded in mystery. It is
well-known, however, that he was of Roman descent. Though not born in Rome, he
was born in a Roman territory to Roman parents. If a child is born to
American parents in an American territory, the child is an American
citizen. Similarly, Patrick was born a Roman by birth.
The last time I checked,
Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire, was located in Italy. Therefore,
anyone born a Roman citizen is also an Italian. What I have written in this
article can be confirmed in any history book about Saint Patrick. Just go
online and see how many places sell “Saint Patric was Italian” T-shirts.
I have heard it said that
everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. I am of adopted Italian descent, but I
enjoy corned beef and cabbage with a tall glass of green beer as much as any
This article is by Dayton author
and historian Dennis Cassinelli. You can order his books at a discount on
his blog at denniscassinelli.com.