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Rural Missouri Magazine

One of a kind post office
St. Patrick, Mo.

by Jason Jenkins

This year, St. Patrick, Mo., celebrates the 150th anniversary of its post office. This asset makes the hamlet unique, as it is the only St. Patrick in the world with a post office, which is featured on this month’s cover.

Thousands of cards and letters are sent to the northeast Missouri town each year to be hand-stamped with a pictorial cancellation commemorating St. Patrick’s Day. The post office, which is served by Lewis County Rural Electric Cooperative, has offered the special cancellation since 1979.

However, the tradition of sending keepsakes from St. Patrick extends back to 1936, when the Rev. Francis O’Duignan began a successful fundraising campaign to construct the Shrine of St. Patrick. He designed a green shamrock cachet, stamped it on 500 letters explaining his plan and mailed them on March 17, thus starting the postmark tradition.

The Shrine was dedicated in 1957 and is fashioned after St. Patrick’s Memorial Church of Four Masters in Donegal, Ireland. Its Celtic design features 37 stained glass windows, including that of St. Patrick.

Fewer than 15 people live in St. Patrick today, but the community will swell with visitors on March 17. The day includes tours, storytellers, music and the annual Leprechaun Giveaway. Breakfast, lunch and dinner also are served.

Most cards and letters are postmarked on March 17, but the special cancellation can be used any day from March 1 to 30. Stamped, self-addressed envelopes requesting the pictorial cancellation may be mailed to Postmaster, St. Patrick, MO 63466. There is no charge; call 660-754-6511 for more details.

For $1, the Shrine sells a specially designed envelope that includes the pictorial cancellation, O’Duignan’s catchet and first-class postage. Send orders to Shrine of St. Patrick, P.O. Box 34, St. Patrick, MO 63466 or contact publicity chairman Ellen Krueger at 660-754-6028 for more information.

 

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