Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland. He helped bring Christianity to Ireland. Every 17th March Ireland celebrates with a national holiday and holds festivals and special events to commemorate the man who reportedly banished snakes from the Emerald Isle.
Patrick was born in Kilpatrick in Scotland in the year of 387 A.D. Between the ages of fourteen and sixteen Patrick was kidnapped from Britain and brought to Ireland were he was sold as a slave to work as a Shepard on an Irish mountain range.
Ireland was full of Celts that were Druids and pagans during this era and as a slave he learned the Celtic Language which was spoken in Ireland at that time. Although he wasn’t a religious boy he did spend his time in captivity finding his faith in Christianity.
At 22 years of age, six years after being captured, he managed to escape from Ireland after having a dream from God telling him to leave. From Ireland he went into hiding in a monastery to harden his faith and it was during this time he took on the name Patricius, Pádraig in Irish (Patrick). In another dream he heard the people of Ireland calling “We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more.”
Patrick, as a Bishop, returned to Slane in County Meath, 433 A.D. recorded in the Annals of Ulster as:
Bishop Patrick flourishing in the fervour of the Faith and in the doctrine of Christ in our province.
When he was in his 30’s he became one of the first Christian missionaries in Ireland. One legend says Patrick had met a Chieftain in Meath called Dichu who had tried to kill him but Patrick managed to convert Dichu to Christianity.
St Palladius was the first Christian to come to Ireland and introduce Christianity to the natives of Ireland. However, it was St Patrick who had made the biggest impact in the country by converting thousands of people by preaching the gospel. It was Dichu (now known as Saint Dichu) that gave Patrick a gift of a large barn that was converted into his first Church, located in Sabhall, County Down in Ulster.
Patrick with his disciples, Beningnus, Auxilius, Iserninus, and Fiaac, traveled all over Ireland teaching his faith, converting clan chiefs, building churches, opening schools and monasteries and convincing many Irish to become monks and nuns. Patrick preached all over Ireland for 40 years mostly in poverty and died on March 17, 461A.D in his Church in Sabhall, County Down.
Saint Patrick used Shamrocks, a three-leaved Clover, to teach the people of Ireland the concept of the Holy Trinity. The Shamrock has been associated with him and the Irish ever since.
Did St Patrick drive snakes from Ireland? During this time or any time Ireland never had any snakes but it is believed the snakes were a symbol of the druids or Paganism which is symbolized as serpents.
Irish Traditions on St Patrick’s Day
St Patrick’s Day is celebrated by parades across the world such as United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and Russia. Although it is more common that on this day people can claim Irish heritage by ‘wearing of the green’ and drinking green beer it has become more of an event to celebrate the Irish culture. The United States boasts the largest parades such as the New York City St Patrick’s day parade and Chicago, where the river is dyed green.