The Irish Franciscan who gave St. Patrick his feast day

Excerpt from an article published in the National Catholic Reporter, March 17, 2016
by Ray Cavanaugh

St. Patrick’s Day is now a big celebration on multiple continents, but how did it get going? Patrick, who died in 461 A.D., didn’t launch the festivities himself. Instead, it was a 17th-century Franciscan priest, Luke Wadding, who made sure that Patrick was given a feast day. This day, of course, developed into a riotous yearly tribute — surely more celebratory than Wadding intended.

In Rome, he would make his greatest impact. He established the College of St. Isidore, which educated Irish priests who left Ireland because of anti-Catholic suppression by the British. Many of these students would become martyrs upon returning to their homeland.

Among this corpus of scholarship was a treatise on the Immaculate Conception, a 16-volume work on the Middle Age theologian John Duns Scotus, and an eight-volume history of the Franciscan order.

Yet all of these writings combined would not prove as influential as Wadding’s efforts to make March 17 an official feast day….