Who Was Saint Patrick, Anyway?
Young Saint Patrick
Leprechauns and 4-Leaf Clovers
I was looking at the calendar in the kitchen when I noticed that St. Patrick’s Day is coming up on March 17th. Then I started wondering: “Who WAS Saint Patrick, anyway?”
So, I had to do some research because I did not know anything about Saint Patrick! All I knew about him was that the mere mention of his name conjures up images of leprechauns, 4-leaf clovers ….and Lucky Charms!
Once I started looking into Patrick’s life, I found out he had a pretty interesting story!
Read on to find out more about the life and times of Saint Patrick, Bishop of the Irish (Click to Tweet).
Celtic Cross: Saint Patrick's Creation
The Life of Saint Patrick
Note: For Saint Patrick’s story we will refer to him as Patrick, since he was not a saint in his early life.
Childhood & Relatives
Patrick was born in England (United Kingdom) in circa 385 to Calphurnius and Conchessa, his father and mother,
Patrick’s dad, Calphurnius, was a deacon; he worked for a wealthy Roman family in England. His mom, Conchessa, was reportedly, a “close relative” of Saint Martin of Tours, a well-known patron saint. Grandfather Pontius also worked in the church. Even so, despite all these religious positions his family held, religion was hardly discussed during Patrick’s childhood.
In fact, Patrick’s family did not care one way or the other about Patrick’s education nor his religious knowledge. As a result, Patrick was uneducated, and ashamed of it.
All through his life, Patrick was embarrassed about his illiteracy -- it was a major source of embarrassment to him. If someone wanted him to write something down, Patrick was uable to; situations like this were very stressful for Patrick.
Abducted By Pirates
Then one night, during a raid in England, Patrick was abducted by Irish pirates and sent on a ship to Ireland. He was only 16 years old! Once he arrived in Ireland, he was sold as a slave to Milchu in the *overkingdom of Dalriada.
Master Milchu was a Druid High Priest, (Pagan). Druidism was the dominant “religion” during this time, so most of the Irish people were Druids. .
During Patrick’s enslavement he became Milchu’s shepherd; he tended Milchu’s sheep for 6 years. Master Milchu was one of Patrick's first converts to Christianity.
Test Of Faith
Patrick became passionate about Christianity, devoting hours to fervent praying. He thought his enslavement was God's way of testing his faith.
Then one night, Patrick had a dream, he thought, was from God. In the dream Patrick saw the children of Ireland reaching out to him, with both arms and fingers outstretched, reaching toward him.
Called to Do God's Work
Patrick understood this dream was from God. God was telling him to convert the children of Ireland from their Pagan Druid religion to Christianity so they could be saved. This dream inspired Patrick deeply; he became obsessed with converting Ireland to Christianity.
He Dreams of a Voice
In about the year 408 A.D. Patrick dreams of a voice telling him that he will return to his home in England someday. Patrick was excited about the prospect of going home and decided to help this dream come true. Patrick makes plans to escape from Milchu (and Ireland) and go back to his home in England.
Escape From Ireland
Anxious to get back home, Patrick devises an escape plan. He walks over to the sailors, and starts talking to them for a bit, hoping to gain their trust. He asks them if he can board their ship so he can go back to his home to England. After talking for awhile the sailors agree, and Patrick boards the ship.
Trip Ends, Lost in France
But the trip ended sooner than expected. Everyone aboard the ship (including Patrick) abandons the ship after only three days of sailing the ocean blue.
Everyone Is Lost
The ship abandoned, they start walking around France, hoping to find their way-- or someone that can help them -- they are all lost.
Meanwhile, friends and relatives of the crew think the ship is lost. And right they were; they were lost. They were lost and they were walking ‘somewhere in France’. After all was said and done, they were lost for 28 days, and wandered over 200 miles!
Patrick Finds His Family
Patrick finally arrives in England, and then he finds his family and relatives. Soon after, he decides he wants to become a priest
Patrick, under the direction of Missionary Saint Germain, is sent to Auxerre, France where he studies for the priesthood.
Ever since Patrick’s dream that God wanted him to spread the Gospel to the children of Ireland he remained passionate about Christianity and doing God’s work.
Declared a Saint
In the year 431, Patrick is declared a saint (consecrated) by Pope Celestine the 1st. Patrick’s title becomes “Saint Patrick, Bishop of the Irish.”
After this, Pope Celestine the 1st sends Saint Patrick back to Ireland to spread the Gospel and convert the Pagan Druids of Ireland to Christianity.
Returns to Ireland As Missionary
Saint Patrick arrives in Ireland, but not to a warm welcome. The people are hostile, angry, and rude; they ignore Saint Patrick. Not wanting to change their religion, they shun him and his religion. They were Pagan Druids and they wanted to keep it that way.
Saint Patrick was not one to be deterred. He explains to the Pagans that their religion is keeping them enslaved. He goes on to explain, if they become Christian they become “God’s children” and “sons of God.”
Sermons a la Saint Patrick
Later, Saint Patrick begins preaching his sermons: Christian sacraments mixed with Pagan rituals. During this time as a missionary in Ireland, he creates the Celtic cross.
All through Ireland, Saint Patrick preached Christianity. He traveled far and wide, preaching and performing many baptisms, and building churches. Saint Patrick was successful in converting many of the Irish people from their Pagan religion to Christianity.
Saint Patrick’s Death
On March 17th, circa 461, Saint Patrick dies at the age of 76. He died at the cite of the first church he built, in Saul, Ireland, and is supposedly buried in Ulster, County Down, Ireland.
Honors and Sainthood
Saint Patrick was declared a saint by some Catholic churches, revered in the Orthodox Catholic Church, and honored by the Episcopal Church.
We have been celebrating Saint Patrick's Day for over 1,000 years!
In the old days, as was tradition, Irish families attended church early in the mornin’, and the festivities began later. Food is always a part of a great celebration, and traditional Saint Patty’s Day food was bacon and cabbage (I always thought it was corned beef and cabbage….).
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
Source: St. Patrick, (2015). The Biography.com website: http://www.biography.com/people/st-patrick-9434729
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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
St. Patrick, Bishop of the Irish
Video: "The History of Saint Patrick"
LIttle Known Facts about St. Patrick
- Patrick was born Maewyn Succat; when he became a priest, he chose the name Patrick
- When he was enslaved in Ireland, he learned the Irish language until he was fluent
- Circa 432 is the year cited as Ireland conversion to Christianity
- St. Patrick's nationality: Roman Brit
- In his later life, he worked as a cleric and learned to write
- He was declared Ireland's Patron Saint after his death (posthumously)
- St. Patrick is credited for converting Ireland to Christianity
- He published: Epistle to Coroticus Confessio
Video: RECIPE St. Patrick's Day Ombre Easy-Bake Oven Cake
Saints Fun Facts
Video: "The HIstory of St. Patrick's Day"
Unanswered Questions about St. Patrick's Day
I still have a few unanswered questions about Saint Patrick:
- Why do we pinch people for not wearing green on Saint Patrick’s Day?
- What do leprechauns and a pots o' gold have to do with Saint Patrick’s Day, since Saint Patrick was really English?
- If St. Patrick's Day is his death date, what is his birthday?
St. Patrick in Older Years
Video: "The True Story of St. Patrick"
Saint Patrick's Day Poll
What do you think of when Saint Patrick's Day is mentioned?
Video: GREEN MAKE-UP TUTORIAL
Saint Patrick's Day Shot Glasses
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An Irish Prayer
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© 2015 Miriam Parker