The Truth Behind St. Patrick’s Day: Celebrations Did NOT Originate in Boston
New records uncovered by a USF St. Petersburg history professor show that St. Augustine, Fla., celebrated St. Patrick's Day at least a century earlier
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (March 15, 2018) – Irish culture will soon be celebrated across the globe with
parades, pub crawls and seas of green. But newly uncovered documents prove
unlike previous belief, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations did not start in Boston,
rather at least 100 years earlier in St. Augustine, Florida.
discovery comes from a rather unlikely source: gunpowder expenditures lists
from St. Augustine for the years 1600-1601. While cannons and other artillery
were often fired to help guide ships safely across St. Augustine’s protective
sandbar, they were also shot off during times of public celebrations and
A single entry from March 1600 states St. Augustine’s residents gathered together and processed through the streets in honor of the feast day of San Patricio, or St. Patrick. As they made their way through the town, cannons fired from the wooden fort in celebration of the Irish saint.
“It was certainly
a surprise,” said historian J. Michael Francis, PhD, University of South Florida-St.
Petersburg, who uncovered the document. “It did not register the first time I
saw the name “San Patricio,” the Spanish name for St. Patrick. After a few
seconds it actually hit me that there was a St. Patrick’s Day parade/procession
in St. Augustine in 1601. Even more surprising was that the document identified
St. Patrick as the patron saint of the city’s maize fields.”
discovered the records while exploring St. Augustine’s long Spanish imperial
history. Over the past several decades, Dr. Francis has examined thousands of
documents housed in Spain’s Archivo General de Indias (AGI), one of the world’s
most important historical archives, classified as a World Heritage Site. The
archive also includes information about Ricardo Artur (Richard Arthur), the
Irish priest who likely introduced the devotion to St. Patrick. When Artur
disappears from the historical record in 1604, so do the references to St.