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Wikimedia Commons

7 Artifacts (Supposedly) Connected to St. Patrick

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

St. Patrick crafted a legacy that remains alive and well in the Emerald Isle and across the Atlantic. A handful of relics have been said to sport some connection to the man, from the well he purportedly used to the silver case molded for his severed arm. While their authenticity is questionable at best, these items’ collective cultural impact cannot be over-emphasized. Here are seven objects linked—in one way or another—to the life and ministry of Ireland’s Patron Saint.

1. St. Patrick’s Tooth and Its Shrine

Courtesy of Flickr user Dominotic

As its name implies, legend holds that the ornate “Shrine of St. Patrick’s Tooth” once contained an actual tooth Patrick lost while visiting the ancient church of Killaspugbrone. During the 14th century, a wooden box coated in gold, silver, and amber was assembled to shelter the hallowed tooth. Since then, its dental occupant has vanished, but you can still see this intricate artifact today at the National Museum of Ireland.

2. The Well of St. Patrick’s Cathedral

In 1901, the remains of an ancient well were uncovered near St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. According to the church’s official website, it is “possible that this was the same well which St. Patrick used in the fifth century [to baptize Christian converts]” in the area. Even by the Cathedral’s own admission this is a fairly speculative conclusion, but if you’re at all interested in Irish history, the building is worth a visit.

3. The Bellshrine of St. Patrick

Wikimedia Commons

One of Ireland’s most famous relics, this bell claimed to have belonged to the Saint was placed in a shrine made of bronze plates at King Domhall Ua Lochlainn’s request during the 12th century.

4. St. Patrick’s Tombstone

Wikimedia Commons

St. Patrick’s earliest biographers state that he was buried somewhere around the vicinity of Down Cathedral in Northern Ireland. While it’s impossible to ascertain his body’s precise whereabouts, a “memorial stone” (taken from the neighboring Mourne Mountains) was placed on the church’s grounds in 1900 by the Belfast Naturalists' Field Club to mark the approximate location.

5. St. Patrick’s Croizer (“Pastoral Staff”)

According to historian Brian Mac Giolla Phadraig, tradition holds that St. Patrick received this rod “from a hermit on an island in the Mediterranean to whom it had been given by [Jesus] himself with an injunction to give it to Patrick when he should arrive." Although images of St. Patrick clutching the croizer are a common fixture in Irish artwork, the staff itself was denounced as an “object of superstition” and publically destroyed in 1538 by English invaders.

6. The Shrine of St. Patrick’s Hand

Metropolitan Museum

Disembodied appendages are rarely treated to their very own caskets. But when you’re revered as a saint, nothing’s too good for one of your amputated limbs. A silver holster was forged to envelop a severed arm and hand popularly believed to have been St. Patrick’s. But, like the religious figure’s aforementioned tooth, these bony remnants have also gone missing. The container is on display at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

7. The Confessio & The Book of Armagh

“My name is Patrick. I am a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers.” So begins St. Patrick’s Confessio ("Confession”), a letter the famed missionary composed late in his life. The candid document explains his religious convictions and reveals some important biographical details (for example, his father, Calpornius, was a deacon). While the original text has been lost to history, the earliest-known copy is recorded in the Book of Armagh, which was written during the 9th century & currently resides at the Library of Trinity College in Dublin.

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Big Questions
What Happened to the Physical Copy of the 'I Have a Dream' Speech?
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AFP, Getty Images

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave a speech for the ages, delivering the oratorical masterpiece "I Have a Dream" to nearly 250,000 people.

When he was done, King stepped away from the podium, folded his speech, and found himself standing in front of George Raveling, a former Villanova basketball player who, along with his friend Warren Wilson, had been asked to provide extra security around Dr. King while he was speaking. "We were both tall, gangly guys," Raveling told TIME in 2003. "We didn't know what we were doing but we certainly made for a good appearance."

Moved by the speech, Raveling saw the folded papers in King’s hands and asked if he could have them. King gave the young volunteer the speech without hesitation, and that was that.

“At no time do I remember thinking, ‘Wow, we got this historic document,’” Raveling told Sports Illustrated in 2015. Not realizing he was holding what would become an important piece of history in his hands, Raveling went home and stuck the three sheets of paper into a Harry Truman biography for safekeeping. They sat there for nearly two decades while Raveling developed an impressive career coaching NCAA men’s basketball.

In 1984, he had recently taken over as the head coach at the University of Iowa and was chatting with Bob Denney of the Cedar Rapids Gazette when Denney brought up the March on Washington. That's when Raveling dropped the bomb: “You know, I’ve got a copy of that speech," he said, and dug it out of the Truman book. After writing an article about Raveling's connection, the reporter had the speech professionally framed for the coach.

Though he displayed the framed speech in his house for a few years, Raveling began to realize the value of the piece and moved it to a bank vault in Los Angeles. Though he has received offers for King’s speech—one collector wanted to purchase the speech for $3 million in 2014—Raveling has turned them all down. He has been in talks with various museums and universities and hopes to put the speech on display in the future, but for now, he cherishes having it in his possession.

“That to me is something I’ll always be able to look back and say I was there,” Raveling said in the original Cedar Rapids Gazette article. “And not only out there in that arena of people, but to be within touching distance of him. That’s like when you’re 80 or 90 years old you can look back and say ‘I was in touching distance of Abraham Lincoln when he made the Gettysburg Address.’"

“I have no idea why I even asked him for the speech,” Raveling, now CEO of Coaching for Success, has said. “But I’m sure glad that I did.”

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Live Smarter
3 Reasons Why Your New Year's Resolutions Fail—and How to Fix Them
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iStock

You don’t need a special day to come up with goals, but New Year’s Day is as good a time as any to build better habits. The problem is, by the time February rolls around, our best laid plans have often gone awry. Don’t let it happen this year: Heed these three simple tips for fail-proof resolutions.

PROBLEM 1: THEY’RE TOO OVERWHELMING

Let’s say your goal is to pay off $5000 worth of credit card debt this year. Since you're giving yourself a long timeframe (all year) to pay it down, you end up procrastinating or splurging, telling yourself you’ll make up for it later. But the longer you push it off, the bigger and more overwhelming your once-reasonable goal can feel.

Solution: Set Smaller Milestones

The big picture is important, but connecting your goal to the present makes it more digestible and easier to stick with. Instead of vowing to pay off $5000 by the end of next December, make it your resolution to put $96 toward your credit card debt every week, for example.

In a study from the University of Wollongong, researchers asked subjects to save using one of two methods: a linear model and a cyclical model. In the linear model, the researchers told subjects that saving for the future was important and asked them to set aside money accordingly. In contrast, they told the cyclical group:

This approach acknowledges that one’s life consists of many small and large cycles, that is, events that repeat themselves. We want you to think of the personal savings task as one part of such a cyclical life. Make your savings task a routinized one: just focus on saving the amount that you want to save now, not next month, not next year. Think about whether you saved enough money during your last paycheck cycle. If you saved as much as you wanted, continue with your persistence. If you did not save enough, make it up this time, with the current paycheck cycle.

When subjects used this cyclical model, focusing on the present, they saved more than subjects who focused on their long-term goal.

PROBLEM 2: THEY'RE TOO VAGUE

“Find a better job” is a worthy goal, but it's a bit amorphous. It's unclear what "better" means to you, and it’s difficult to plot the right course of action when you’re not sure what your desired outcome is. Many resolutions are vague in this way: get in shape, worry less, spend more time with loved ones.

Solution: Make Your Goal a SMART One

To make your goal actionable, it should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. When you set specific parameters and guidelines for your goal, it makes it easier to come up with an action plan. Under a bit more scrutiny, "spend more time with loved ones" might become "invite my best friends over for dinner every other Sunday night." This new goal is specific, measurable, time-bound—it ticks all the boxes and tells you exactly what you want and how to get there.

PROBLEM 3: YOU FELL FOR THE “FALSE FIRST STEP”

“A false first step is when we try to buy a better version of ourselves instead of doing the actual work to accomplish it,” Anthony Ongaro of Break the Twitch tells Mental Floss. “The general idea is that purchasing something like a heart rate monitor can feel a lot like we're taking a step towards our fitness goals,” Ongaro says. “The purchase itself can give us a dopamine release and a feeling of satisfaction, but it hasn't actually accomplished anything other than spending some money on a new gadget.”

Even worse, sometimes that dopamine is enough to lure you away from your goal altogether, Ongaro says. “That feeling of satisfaction that comes with the purchase often is good enough that we don't feel the need to actually go out for a run and use it.”

Solution: Start With What You Already Have

You can avoid this trap by forcing yourself to start your goal with the resources you already have on hand. “Whether the goal is to learn a new language or improve physical fitness, the best way to get started and avoid the false first step is to do the best you can with what you already have,” Ongaro says. “Start really small, even learning one new word per day for 30 days straight, or just taking a quick walk around the block every day.”

This isn’t to say you should never buy anything related to your goal, though. As Ongaro points out, you just want to make sure you’ve already developed the habit a bit first. “Establish a habit and regular practice that will be enhanced by a product you may buy,” he says. “It's likely that you won't even need that gadget or that fancy language learning software once you actually get started ... Basically, don't let buying something be the first step you take towards meaningful change in your life.”

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