Saint Patrick is world-renowned as the patron saint of Ireland, as the man who brought Christianity to the Emerald Isle, and as the banisher of snakes. His feast day is celebrated all over the globe with parades, costumes and, yes… alcohol.
But do you know the true story of St. Patrick?
He is not only the patron saint of Ireland, but also of Australia, Montserrat and Nigeria. He wasn’t Irish and there weren’t any snakes in Ireland in the first place.
His name wasn’t even Patrick.
Are you ready to learn the story of St. Patrick, one of the most popular Saints in the world?
The Story of St. Patrick
Saint Patrick was born as Maewyn Succat circa 375 A.D., presumably in Scotland. He was the son of two Romans, Calpernius and Conchessa. His father was a deacon hailing from a well-to-do family; his grandfather Pontius also a member of the clergy.
Despite this, Patrick wasn’t religiously brought up and had very little interest in it as a child. He cites this lack of religious education, in his later writings of ‘Confessions’, as both a source of embarrassment and regret.
When Patrick was 16, he was kidnapped by raiders and sold as a slave in Ireland. His job was to tend to a flock of sheep on Slemish Mountain in County Antrim.
For the next six years Patrick watched over the sheep, protecting them from wolves, foxes and other predators.
It was during these six years that he turned to prayer and became increasingly closer to God.
Return to Britain
Patrick began to pray that he could return home. In a dream one night, God told him that a ship was waiting 200 miles away to bring him back home to Britain.
Trusting his vision, Patrick travelled south to Dublin where he found the ship and convinced the captain to allow him to sail with them.
Upon his return, the ship’s crew travelled for 28 days in the wilderness before finding their way. Patrick was reunited with his parents and subsequently travelled to France to become a priest.
Upon becoming a priest, he adopted the name ‘Patricius’ and referred to himself as such in his future writings.
Christianisation of Ireland
Patrick had several dreams of the people of Ireland calling out to him for help, and so he requested to be sent on a mission to Ireland to spread Christianity.
He travelled the country, setting up small churches and recruiting people to join the clergy.
He ran into much trouble from the high priests and pagan leaders of Ireland at the time, yet he persevered.
Saint Patrick allegedly died on 17th March, 493, although this date is disputed.
Legends and Stories of St. Patrick
St. Patrick banishes the snakes
St. Patrick climbed to the top of Croagh Patrick to fast for 40 days and 40 nights. During this time, he was pestered and bothered by snakes.
He subsequently banished all of the snakes from Ireland.
Now that you know the full story of Saint Patrick and how he came to be, you can really enjoy the celebrations this St. Patricks Day!