St Patrick’s Day 2023: Who was St Patrick? Everything we know about the patron saint of Ireland
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St Patrick’s Day 2023 is finally here, millions of people around the world will be gearing up to celebrate the Patron Saint of Ireland once again. While the day itself is often celebrated with Guinness and wearing green, there is much more to the story behind the day.
In modern times, St Patrick’s Day has become a globally celebrated event, it gives people a chance to celebrate their Irish heritage, but also has been marketed by many companies who often lean into the Irish stereotypes, so the day becomes filled with leprechauns and whisky.
Saint Patrick is one of Christianity’s most celebrated and widely known figures, not simply just for his excuse to drink copious amounts of Guinness. The day in which he is celebrated falls on the day of his death, however, his life is somewhat of a mystery.
There are many stories associated with the famous Patron Saint of Ireland, the best known one includes the account of him banishing all the snakes from Ireland. However, many are false.
Perhaps one of the most surprising revelations is that St Patrick was never actually canonised as a Saint in the Catholic Church due to the era in which he lived. There was no formal process for dubbing someone a Saint during his lifetime, after becoming a priest and helping to spread Christianity throughout Ireland, Patrick was likely proclaimed a saint by popular acclaim.
So, who was Saint Patrick? Here’s everything you need to know about him this St Paddy’s day.
Who was St Patrick?
According to the History website, St. Patrick was born in Britain, not Ireland, to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D.
Why is St Patrick famous?
Patrick was taken prisoner at the age of 16 by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They took him to Ireland where he remained a prisoner for six years - exactly where in Ireland he was held has varied over the years.
Patrick eventually escaped imprisonment, and according to his writing a voice he believed to be God spoke to him in a dream telling him it was time to leave Ireland. History reported that to do so, Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, where it is believed he was held, to the Irish coast.
After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported he experienced a second revelation: an angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than 15 years.
Patrick became ordained as a priest and was sent to Ireland with a mission which was to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish. In doing so, Patrick chose to incorporate Irish language and culture into his teachings. For example, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honouring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross.