Saint Patrick


St Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland. Every year on March 17 we celebrate his feast day with many fun traditions. His story however is far less known than the holiday. 


Early Life 

Patrick was born in Roman Britain around 400 C.E. His birthplace is not known with any certainty; some traditions place it in England. His father, Calpurnius, is described as a decurion (Senator and tax collector), of an unspecified Romano-British city, and deacon, his grandfather Potitus was a priest from Bonaven Tabernia, However Patrick’s confession states he was not an active believer in his youth.


Patrick’s Capture

At the age of sixteen he was captured by a group of Irish pirates from his family’s Villa at “Bannavem Taburniae.” They took him to Ireland where he was enslaved and held captive for six years. 


Patrick’s Conversion

Patrick writes in the Confession that the time he spent in captivity was critical to his spiritual development. He explains that the Lord had mercy on his youth and ignorance, and afforded him the opportunity to be forgiven his sins and convert to Christianity. While in captivity, he worked as a shepherd and strengthened his relationship with God through prayer, eventually leading him to convert to Christianity.


Patrick’s Return Home

After six years of captivity he heard an angel tell him that he would soon go home, and that his ship was ready. Fleeing his master, he walked to a port two hundred miles away,[36] where he found a ship and with difficulty persuaded the captain to take him. After three days sailing, they landed, presumably in Britain, and apparently all left the ship, walking for 28 days in a “wilderness” and becoming faint from hunger. After Patrick prayed for sustenance, they encountered a herd of wild boar; since this was shortly after Patrick had urged them to put their faith in God, his prestige in the group was greatly increased. After various adventures, he returned home to his family, now in his early twenties. After returning home to Britain, Patrick continued to study Christianity. 


Patrick’s Visions 

Patrick recounts that he had a vision a few years after returning home:

“I saw a man coming, as if he were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: “The Voice of the Irish.” As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.”

Patrick Acts on His Visions

Acting on his vision, Patrick returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary. According to J. B. Bury, his landing place was Wicklow, Co. Wicklow, at the mouth of the river Inver-dea, which is now called the Vartry. Bury suggests that Wicklow was also the port through which Patrick made his escape after his six years’ captivity, though he offers only circumstantial evidence to support this. Tradition has it that Patrick was not welcomed by the locals and was forced to leave and seek a more welcoming landing place further north. He rested for some days at the islands off the Skerries coast, one of which still retains the name of Inis-Patrick. The first sanctuary dedicated by Patrick was at Saul. Shortly thereafter Benin (or Benignus), son of the chieftain Secsnen, joined Patrick’s group.


Patrick’s Ministry 

When Patrick returned to Irelend he immediately began preaching Christianity. Soon after Christianity became Ireland’s most common religion. As a result many churches and statues were built in honor of God and other holy figures. 


Patrick’s Shamrock Metaphor

As a way to explain the Holy Trinity Patrick took from the ground a 3 leaf clover and explained that the trinity was similar to the clover. Each leaf represents a different part of the trinity (The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.


Patrick’s Driving of the snakes out of Ireland  (legend) 

As many people know there are no snakes in Ireland. Many people believe that is the case due to St. Patrick. The legend is that Patrick went to the coast of Ireland and stuck out his hand commanding all snakes to leave Ireland and they did as they were told. It is also believed that Patrick cursed the ground so if any snake were to lay its scales on Ireland it would die immediately.


Patrick’s Impact on Ireland

Patrick turned all of Ireland Christian and eleminated slavery from that area of the world. As a thanks for his work for the Irish people, they made him the Patron Saint of their country and made his feast day a national holiday around the world.


Patrick’s Death Details

Patrick died on March 17, 461 C.E.. This day became his feast day and later the national holiday we know today. He was buried in Down Cathedral, Downpatrick, United Kingdom.