When I was going through some of my stuff a few weeks ago, I found a couple of little envelopes addressed to me by my father. The letters weren’t inside anymore but that was okay. It was the envelope that mattered anyway. They were stamped from St. Patrick, Missouri, the only town in the world (with a post office) that bears the name of the patron saint of Ireland.
And it’s only open in March to celebrate St. Patrick.
St. Patrick, Missouri is located in the southern part of Clark County in the northeast corner of the state. It’s about ten minutes from where I grew up. There isn’t a lot there. A shrine, a church, scattered houses. And an old post office that used to function like any other post office. But like many little towns, St. Patrick’s post office grew too expensive to run and was shuttered. Every March 17th, they reopen to send out mail dated and stamped in green like they’ve been doing since 1936.
The Irish come alive too. There are musicians, gift giveaways, storytelling and food, plenty of food. Naturally, there is also mass at the end of the day.
The Shrine itself is worth the trip to see even if you don’t go on March 17th, which is also the date it was dedicated on in 1957. It’s design is fashioned from St. Patrick’s Memorial Church of Four Masters in Donegal, Ireland. The stained glass windows, 37 in all, were made in Dublin. It’s a beautiful site to behold. And you don’t even need to cross the pond to see it.
I put those envelopes in plastic baggies. They mean more than just the stamp. My dad took the time to do all of it. Just for me. I’m sure my brothers and sister got their own mail but these were mine. When you’re five or six, getting your own mail validates you. Even if it’s from your dad.
No doubt that my daughter will be getting one of her own in the mail very soon.