What is a Statue of an Irish Saint Doing in our Parroquia?

What is a Statue of an Irish Saint Doing in our Parroquia?

The Historical Walk, Patronato Pro Niños
Mon, Wed, and Fri
Jardan, across from the Parroquia, 9:45am
No reservations or advance bookings needed
300 peso per person donation

By Patrick Green

When I first noticed the statue of San Patricio in the Parroquia I was quite charmed. Being Irish and being named Patrick, how could I feel otherwise? But it did not take long for the thought to occur—what is San Patricio doing in a Mexican Church? That question went unanswered until I started training as a volunteer for PPN History Walks.

My training taught me that the Mexican people have a soft spot in their hearts for San Patricio and the Irish. The story goes back to the 1840s and the potato famine in Ireland. The Irish were leaving their motherland in droves. Many ended up in New England and, in search of food, clothing and shelter, joined the American military.

In 1846, President James Polk used an alleged boundary dispute with Mexico as a pretext for sending the US military to invade Mexico. Americans call this the Mexican-American War. Mexico calls it the American Intervention. Many of the Irish immigrants soon found themselves in Texas with General Zachary Taylor on the disputed boundary. They engaged in battle but many found themselves questioning what they were doing. Wasn’t the wealthy and powerful US taking advantage of their less powerful southern neighbor just like the British had bullied the Irish for centuries? Didn’t the US military officer corps discriminate horribly against the Irish soldiers? And weren’t the Mexicans Catholic like the Irish? Many of the Irish soldiers felt they had more in common with the Mexicans than they did with the Americans.

History tells us that 175 Irish-American soldiers defected from the American military and crossed the battle lines to fight for Mexico. They created the San Patricio Battalion and fought with great courage and valor for Mexico. By the end of the war most had been killed in battle. Many of those who survived were captured at the end of the war and punished. Of these brave soldiers, 48 were hanged for treason.

Mexicans have never forgotten the sacrifices made for Mexico by the men of the San Patricio Battalion. In fact, there is a small museum in the San Angel section of Mexico City that is dedicated to keeping the story of the San Patricio alive. Across the street from the museum is a statue of John Riley, the leader of the San Patricio Battalion, and a plaque with the names of the men executed for treason.

You can learn more about Mexican history by taking the Historical Walk with the Patronato Pro Niños Volunteers where 100 percent of your donations go to support the important work of PPN. For almost 50 years, this Mexican nonprofit organization has been providing necessary medical, dental, and psychological care to the children of families who cannot afford these services. In 2019, more than 9,000 children were served and over 90 villages in the campo surrounding San Miguel were visited by our mobile customized medical-dental units.

All Walks are conducted in English. Private tours for your family, company, or organization be arranged. Contact Christina 415 152 7796, historicalwt@patronatoproninos.org.