Who was Saint Patrick?

Saint Patrick is one of the best known and recognized Saints. Saint Patrick lived in the 400’s and, as with many saints and historic figures, exact dates, places and events are often questioned and cannot be verified. Luckily, there is more information about this man and his life than most historic figures of his time. Regardless of the exact facts, Saint Patrick is one of the most popular of all the Saints and has come to represent not only Christianity but all things Irish.

Saint Patrick was born in Britain. The exact year of his birth and death is under debate. It is generally believed that he was born around the year 400. One date that is commonly found is the year 387. The date of his death is often listed as being the 17th of March, 461.

One of the major events relating to St. Patrick’s life claims that he drove the snakes out of Ireland. This is now questioned. Although there are no snakes in Ireland, there probably never were any. One theory suggest that the snakes were actually a symbol of how St. Patrick drove paganism and its gods out of Ireland.

Two letters that are said to have been written by Saint Patrick still exist, the Declaration and a letter to the soldiers of Coroticus. The Declaration is a letter describing his early life, captivity and his mission in Ireland.

Facts About Saint Patrick

  • Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland. He is also the patron Saint of Nigeria, engineers, against snakes, snake bites, against ophidiophobia (fear of snakes), and many cities throughout the world.
  • St. Patrick was taken prisoner by Irish raiders when he was about 14. They held Patrick captive for six years. While he was a slave in Ireland he worked as a shepherd.
  • Patrick escaped from his Irish captors when he was about the age of 20 and returned to his family in Britain. Saint Patrick is believed to have escaped by walking 200 miles to the shore of Ireland. He then convinced some friendly sailors to return him to his native Britain.
  • Saint Patrick used the shamrock to help explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish. To help the Irish better understand the symbol of the cross and its importance, St. Patrick is said to have incorporated a sun. This incorporation of the sun and the cross gave us what is commonly known as a Celtic Cross.
  • Saint Patrick studied to become an ordained priest in Britain. He returned to Ireland about 433 where he began converting the Irish to Christianity. Saint Patrick baptized thousands of people and ordained priests.
  • Saint Patrick is officially recognized by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Orthodox Church and the Lutheran Church. His feast Day the 17th of March is recognized throughout the world.
  • In art, Saint Patrick is often depicted driving snakes before him. Other portrayals of Saint Patrick show him with a Celtic Cross or a shamrock.
  • Saint Patrick is one of the very few Saints who died of natural causes.

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