Saturday, March 18, 2017

Wearing "St Patrick's blue"

I posted the following description on my personal Facebook page for Saint Patrick's Day yesterday:

I might have been the only layperson at my workplace to not wear green today. I didn't bother explaining my choice for wearing blue there, but I'll share with you all why....

"St Patrick's blue" has been, for at least a couple of centuries, in some sense the national color of Ireland. The earliest surviving image of St Patrick is a 13th century manuscript showing him in a blue habit. One of the oldest existing rolls of arms, going back to the late 1200's, describes the King of Ireland's blazon as D'azure a la harpe d'or (blue with a harp of gold). This survives to the present in both the royal standard of the British sovereign as well as the standard of the Presidents of Ireland (bottom-right). On the top-right is St Patrick's Hall, a stately room in the 13th century Dublin Castle. Prior to Irish independence, this room was used by the Order of St Patrick: the Anglo-Irish counterpart to the Order of the Garter in England. Today it's used for presidential inaugurations. President John F. Kennedy gave a speech here in 1963. The choristers of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin still wear blue cassocks.

As an aside, I do have a sliver of Irish ancestry. My 3rd-great-grandfather, William Gibson, emigrated from Ireland to New York in approximately the 1850's. His family name is preserved in my father's middle name.

The earliest surviving image of St Patrick is from the Huntington Library of San Marino, California's manuscript of the Golden Legend, dating to the late 1200's. Here he wears a blue habit.    

The badge of the Order of St Patrick, suspended by a blue ribbon. The Order has gone essentially defunct since Irish independence.
Both the Choir of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin (pictured above) and the Palestrina Choir of the Catholic Pro-Cathedral wear blue cassocks.


  1. Not so much interesting post. Because i used to celebrate the St. Patricks day in my own way and i like to do this.

  2. Blue is for saint patricks day? I learnt about it for the first time. Going to share it with others, thank you for posting it here