All about St Patrick

Ireland’s famous patron saint

All about St Patrick

While St Patrick is known worldwide for his famous name day, few people actually know who he was and what he did. Here is what you need to know about St Patrick and the details of his life.

Who was St Patrick?

Known as the ‘Apostle of Ireland’, Saint Patrick was born in the second half of the 4th century in Kilpatrick, Scotland, to a high-ranking Roman family. When he was 16, St Patrick was taken from his home and sold as a slave to a druid priest in Ireland. There he learnt all about druidism, from which he was to free the Irish. In a way, these years of captivity prepared St Patrick to be the apostle he was to become. After six years, St Patrick heard the voice of an angel telling him to go home and so he fled.

St Patrick travelled to France and back, studied Christianity and became a bishop. He then went back to Ireland converting many people and ordaining priests along the way, in areas where no one had ever come to preach. St Patrick survived numerous hardships and became the patron saint of Ireland by the 7th century, as well as a unifying symbol.

St Patrick is also said to have rid Ireland of all snakes, which represented the evil in Christian beliefs - driving the snakes away also meant driving the druids away to make room for Christianity.  

St Patrick’s Day

Globally known as St Patrick’s Day, March 17th is in fact the date of St Patrick’s death. First a holy day in Ireland, it became a celebration of the arrival of Christianity on the island, hence the parades and parties that go on all day long. The restrictions on alcohol are supposedly lifted for the day, which might explain why everyone drinks!

There have been many memorable St Patrick’s Days around the world- in 1962 for instance, a portion of the Chicago River was dyed green!

According to legend, the shamrock became the symbol of Ireland because St Patrick used it to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagans. Is is also why the green is the country’s symbol. The ‘wearing of the green’ habit has been practised in Ireland since the late 17th century, and has become a global tradition. So don’t forget to wear green on St Patrick’s day, or you might get pinched!

St Patrick’s Cathedral

St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, along with the one in New York, are a Catholic symbol for most of the world. Built just around the start of the 13th century, St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin  is the largest church of Ireland. The site in which it was built is supposedly where St Patrick baptised converts.

The Cathedral of Armagh  in Ireland was the first “great stone church” built by St Patrick in 445. This church, which has been destroyed and rebuilt 17 times throughout history, is the centre of the Church of Ireland.

Further reading

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