After some time here, I learned about the St. Patrick's Battalion, a tremendous story that was in no history book I saw in any school I attended. No one tells the story better than David Rovics in his song:
Perhaps, I speculated, St. Patrick's was named for this brave band of immigrants who lived by their consciences and not by peer pressure. But the real answer is, actually, a bit less inspiring, at least at first glance.
|St. Patrick Cathedral and Sunset Heights at dusk|
Now we know that typically miners are the poorest of the poor. Thus, it's not inappropriate to consider our Cathedral St. Patrick here in El Paso as honoring with its name our United States immigrants. They are the people who do the most distasteful work--as did the Irish miners. They are the ones who carry with them into this nation the values we so desperately need--as did the San Patricios, the members of Saint Patrick's Battalion.
"...in raising funds for the cathedral's construction, the diocese offered to allow the first group to raise $10,000 for the project to name the new cathedral.
A group of Irish Catholic women, according to the story, met the challenge and chose the name of St. Patrick. El Paso at the time was a major center of the mining industry in the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico, and, it is said, many of the miners were Irish." [my emphasis]
So, the cathedral's name, after all, befits El Paso, even though it is a city in which descendants of Northern Europeans comprise less than 15% of the citizens [Wikipedia]. It befits El Paso because this is a city that, by and large, welcomes immigrants. Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
David Rovics provides free downloads of all his music, including "The Saint Patricks Battalion" at his site on Soundclick. Lyrics are there, too. Give yourself this song for St. Patrick's Day (you might leave David a tip, too).