(The Federalist) -- President Trump has declared March “Irish-American Heritage Month.” That is fitting, given how much Americans love to brag about their Irish heritage, whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day or not. Irish-themed bumper stickers, Celtic art tattoos, and Celtic crosses are all ubiquitous paraphernalia of Americans eager to assert pride in their ancestral homeland.
About 33 million Americans, or a little over 10 percent of the population claim Irish ancestry. As with every other March 17th, this means we’re in for the usual seas of green clothing, marketing of Irish-themed bric a brac, grocery sales of corned beef, and, of course, the drinking of Guinness. Yet the American obsession with all things Irish increasingly overlooks the one quality of the Irish people that has enabled that little island in the North Atlantic, comparable in size to the state of Indiana, to have such an outsized influence on the greater world: their Christian faith.
We should remember that the Emerald Isle was long a backwater of the European world — the Romans, who called it Hibernia, didn’t even bother to try and conquer it. The island was dominated by small Celtic tribal clans constantly at war with one another. Irish life was, to borrow a line from Thomas Hobbes, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Patrick, a young Roman-British boy living in the crumbling Roman province of Britannia, was himself captured and sold by Irish slave traders. It was only the introduction of Christianity through the ministry of men like St. Patrick that the distant land underwent a true cultural and spiritual revolution.
Advertisement - story continues below