Saint Patrick’s Cross

The one you wear on St. Patrick’s Day!

County Kildare

County Kildare

Once upon a time the celebration of the pattern day or saint’s day of the Saint of the people of the Island of Ireland united all who resided upon the island, no matter what their belief, in solemn prayer and thanksgiving.

The focus of all was upon religion and upon the role of St. Patrick in bringing Christianity and protection to both the people and their Celtic Civilization. As a man from Dublin once told me “and yes, the protection of the Irish – no easy task!”. Take a moment to return to that original spirit of the holiday and make a St. Patrick ‘s Day Cross.


County Meath

County Meath

  1. Any disk or square of cardboard will do. I use beer mats. Try to get the ones which are not printed on one side-if you can’t get them you can paint printed ones white.
  2. Green Fancy Ribbon-no more than about 1/2 inch wide -about 6-9 inches or about 3 times the width of the backing.
  3. Images of symbols of Ireland-harps, shamrocks etc…(stickers are great or cut up old St. Patrick’s Day Cards- butplease! NO Leprechauns!!!
  4. If you know a priest in Ireland have him send you an old vestment to cut up-otherwise an old tie will do just fine! Cut this into small pieces.
  5. Brighttastles, strings,or threads.


  1. Cut two pieces of ribbon. They should be about 2 inches longer than the cardboard base.
  2. Either glue the ribbons onto the front of the base at right angles or cut narrow slots into the base and weave them cross the base at right angles.
  3. In each quadrant of the base glue a picture of a symbol of Ireland-harp, shamrock, etc.
  4. At the central intersection of the two ribbons and at the intersections of the ribbons with the edge of the base attach pieces of vestment, tie, or colored cloth.
  5. Use your imagination to decorate the cross! You can cut notches or patterns into the edge or you can make holes along the edge and tie on fringe or tassels. Just be sure to keep to the traditional colors of green, orange, white and blue. And be sure to avoid those Leprechauns! Wear your cross proudly pinned to your lapel or dress at all St. Patrick’s Day events. Now….that will be Traditionally Irish!

Crofton Croker on the St. Patrick’s Cross

St. Patrick's CrossTo multiply quotations, however, is trifling work, especially upon a point that admits of much less discussion than the absolute existence of the Saint in memory of whom the orgies in question continue to be zealously performed. But a few words may be permitted on the subject of the crosses worn in honor of St. Patrick, and respecting what Holt calls the ” ornaments that are due to his memory.”
Lawrence White, a “lover of the Muses and mathematics,” as he styles
himself on the title-page of a volume of poems, which he published nearly
a hundred years ago (1742) in Dublin, describing the progress of a love
affair, says,

He gained the affections of the maid,
Who did with curious work emboss
For him a fine St. Patrick’s cross.

St. Patrick's CrossIt appears from this, that these crosses were made of silk and embroidery; but, as in modern times, tapestry became superseded by paper, so to be embroidered St. Patrick’s cross was imitated in colored papers, of which the annexed is a faithful representation, one fourth of the original size, with the colors heraldically tricked. The popular demand for decorations of this saintly order being very general in Ireland, and especially an object of ambition among juvenile patriots, the state of whose finances did not warrant the outlay of one penny; an inferior kind of decoration, or cross, was devised by rustic ingenuity to gratify the humbler votaries of St. Patrick. This badge was formed by arcs intersecting each other within a circle, by which something like the figure of two shamrock leaves united at the stalks was produced;
but any resemblance that fancy might have traced in the outline, was destroyed by the colorist, who, according to his own taste, introduced red, yellow, and green, into the various sections: the red coloring matter being generally procured from a puncture made in the artist’s finger for the purpose; the yellow, from the yolk of an egg; and the green, from the vegetable sap of a plant commonly called pennywort. The instrument with which the outline was traced, was no less primitive than the colors. This substitute for the mathematician’s compass was called a goulloge i.e. fork. It was an angular branch of a tree or shrub, in one end of which was fixed a
pin, and on the other a pen.

St. Patrick's CrossThe circular manufacture of national decorations has, however, within the last five or six years, completely
disappeared before the work of that mighty engine, the press; by means of which various representations of St. Patrick, and of fanciful crosses, are now produced. Two examples of these wood-cuts, one fourth of the original size, are here given, which the reader will please to imagine bedaubed with pink, green, and yellow, and glittering with the tinsel of Dutch metal. It should be observed, that the cross of St.
Patrick was worn pinned on the left arm, or attached to the cap or hat, a practice now confined to children; while men, those “children of a larger growth,” substitute for the badge anciently used on the anniversary of Ireland’s Saint, a bunch of shamrock or trefoil, by the size of which an estimate may be formed of the amount of the patriotic zeal of the wearer. The shamrock, however, appears to have been formerly considered only as an apology for any less splendid decoration.

Nay, not as much has Bryan oge,
To put in’s head as one sbamroge
Irish Htidibras, 1689.

St. Patrick's CrossAnd, as “ornaments in honor of St. Patrick,” bunches of shamrock covered with tinsel regularly make their appearance, as marketable articles, in Covent Garden, on the 16th and 17th of March.

In 1783, the Order of the Knights of St. Patrick was instituted by King George III., ” of which his majesty, his heirs and successors, were ordained perpetual sovereigns, and to which several of the most eminent characters under the united monarchy of Great Britain and Ireland, have been elected knights’ companions.”

The popular songs of Ireland
Thomas Crofton Croker,1839