Deeper into Jeopardy! XXVI: National Patron Saints – $400

Welcome back to the second week of the second season, which, if less special than the first week, at least has a pleasant assonance to it. We shall combine both geography and religion, each one a common Jeopardy! subjects, in examining from NATIONAL PATRON SAINTS. Plus, having both a saint and a country ought to give me more fodder to work with, so it makes my job easier too.

Jeopardy! category: NATIONAL PATRON SAINTS (25-09-2014)

$400 clue: The Irish loan him out to be a patron saint of Nigeria

Correct response

The gist: He’s fabled to have banished the snakes from Ireland, but with several extremely venomous snakes hanging around, he doesn’t seem to have done the same for Nigeria. 

Nonetheless, Nigerian Catholics celebrate St. Patrick‘s Day in March with a similar devotion to the more-often-associated Irish. Along with the Virgin Mary (styled the “Queen of Nigeria”), St. Patrick has the honour of being the Patron Saint of Africa’s most populous nation. About 40-50%, depending on the survey, of Nigeria’s 175 million or so people identify as Christian, and about a quarter of those are Catholic (which computes to about 20 million Catholics in the country). Nearly all of the country’s remaining population are Muslim, with a very small fraction practicing traditional African animism.

St. Patrick’s connection to the African country stems from early proselytizing undertaken by Irish missionaries under the leadership of Reverend Joseph Shanahan. Known as “the Apostle of Nigeria,” Shanahan moved to Nigeria in 1902 to help construct a mission house in the country (which wouldn’t actually become a independent until 1914, when Northern and Southern Nigeria united and separated from the United Kingdom). According to the website of the Spiritans, the Catholic order to which Shanahan belonged, his efforts brought the number of Catholics in Nigeria from 2000 to 210 000 by 1930, a more than ten-fold increase in 28 years. Today, Nigeria regularly exports ordained priests to the rest of the world, particularly North American and Europe where ordinations are on the decline. At the same time, however, with the rise of extremist Muslim factions in some parts of the country, violence towards Christian Nigerians has increased.

Traditional depiction of St. Patrick (from Oakland, California, not Nigeria, unfortunately)

The clue: A saint associated with Ireland. There’s only one. Nice of the writers to teach us something most of us probably don’t know about the Saint, though.

In Jeopardy!: Saints are tough to research in the J!Archive, since they can be both “Saint” and “St.” and the site’s search function is pretty basic, but even so, Patrick is a very popular subject on the show, appearing in well over 100 regular clues (and as incorrect guesses in several FJ! clues as well). His Feast (that is, St. Patrick’s Day), so beloved of revelers, is the topic in a lot of them, as is, of course, the country of Ireland. The shamrock, which Patrick used a teaching device to explain the Holy Trinity, is in 13. St. Patrick’s Cathedral, both the one in Dublin and the one in Manhattan, are also brought up fairly frequently, in 17 clues. Unfortunately, not really any common patterns to go with for St. Patty – but of course, keep Ireland in mind. He doesn’t appear that often in high-value clues, meaning most of them are a nod to his Day or his country, which can be put into easier clues.

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