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The Apostle of Ireland

Updated: Mar 18, 2023


St. Patrick’s day is known for parades, green beer, and leprechauns. What does any of that have to do with a Christian Saint? To be honest – not much. In spite of all that, though, it actually celebrates a really good thing.


Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, lit. 'the Day of the Festival of Patrick'), is held on March 17th, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. 385 – c. 461) (Wikipedia)


The day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century. It has come to celebrate Irish culture, and today Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.


Who was Saint Patrick?


Patricius (Latin) or Pádraig (Irish Celtic) was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary to Ireland. Much of what is known about Saint Patrick comes from his autobiographical Confessio of Patrick (the Declaration), which is believed to be written by Patrick himself. He was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century into a wealthy Romano-British family. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland. He spent six years there working as a shepherd, and during this time, he found God. The Declaration says that God told Patrick to flee to the coast, where a ship would be waiting to take him home (it was). After making his way home, Patrick went on to become a cleric.

According to tradition, Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the pagan Irish to Christianity. The Declaration says that he spent many years evangelizing in the northern half of Ireland and converted thousands. He is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland and has become known as the “Apostle of Ireland.”

Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick.


Gravestone of Patricius (St. Patrick)


 

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