Saint Patrick: History and Legends

Saint_PatrickSaint Patrick was a 5th century British Christian missionary. He is known as the “Apostle of Ireland” and is one of the patron saints of Ireland. It’s believed during Saint Patricks thirty years of missionary work in Ireland he converted over 135,000 people, established 300 churches, and consecrated 350 bishops.

Patrick was captured by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland. In Ireland, 16 year old Patrick was sold as a slave and remained enslaved for six years. One night Patrick had a vision telling him his ship was ready. He escaped from his master and found a ship to take him back to Britain.

A few years after his return Patrick had another vision that inspired his return to Ireland. St Patrick explains his vision and why he returned to Ireland. “I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: “The Voice of the Irish”. As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.”

Patrick died on March 17, 461.

Myths and Legends

Shamrocks

Saint Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish pagans. The number three was important to the Irish pagans and Patrick used it to help convert them to Christianity.

Snakes

There are no snakes in Ireland! St. Patrick gets all the credit for banishing snakes from the island. It’s said St. Patrick chased all the snakes into the sea after they attacked him. The truth may be less exciting but more scientific. According to National Geographic, snakes have never successfully migrated over open seas to a new land. Nigel Monaghan, from the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin has searched extensively through Irish fossil collections and records and hasn’t found any evidence of snakes.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

According to Smithsonian.com corned beef and cabbage is an American creation originating with Irish immigrants in New York. The traditional meal in Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day is lamb and bacon.

St. Patrick’s Day Party

St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in the United States in 1762. Since then Americans have transformed a Catholic Saints feast Day into a druken frat party! Grab a green beer and enjoy the day!

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