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St Patrick’s Day 2021: Who was St Patrick? Why is he the patron saint of Ireland?

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St Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland as the whole country gathers to celebrate their patron saint. As well as Ireland, St Patrick’s Day is a big thing in some other countries too, including the US, Canada and Japan. The US has a substantial Irish-American population due to mass immigration in the 19th century during which Irish people fled to America to escape a devastating potato famine. Since then, the US has adopted St Patrick’s Day and commemorates the special occasion with parades, street parties and designated events.

Who was St Patrick?

To the surprise of many, St Patrick’s was actually born to wealthy parents in Britain – not Ireland.

St Patrick was believed to have been born somewhere around the end of the fourth century, and is understood by historians to have died on March 17 in about 460 A.D.

At the age of just 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish invaders who were attacking his family’s estate.

He was transported to Ireland where Patrick spent six years in captivity, and while there’s some dispute over where he was imprisoned, it’s most likely he was held in County Mayo near Killala.

READ MORE: St Patrick’s Day ideas: 6 ways to celebrate St Paddy’s Day in lockdown

Why is he the Patron Saint of Ireland?

St Patrick is so crucial to Ireland and is hailed as the Patron Saint because he’s been credited with bringing Christianity into Ireland.

Although there were a small number of Christians in Ireland when Patrick arrived, most Irish people practiced a nature-based Pagan religion.

While he was imprisoned in Ireland, Patrick worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from other people.

Lonely and afraid after being snatched away from his home and family, Patrick turned to religion for comfort.

After getting back to Britain, Patrick reported that he had experienced yet another message from God.

He said an angel appeared to him in a dream and instructed him to return to Ireland as a missionary.

Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that he endured for more than 15 years.

After he was ordained as a priest, he was sent back to Ireland with two different missions – to minister the Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish to Christianity.

While St Patrick is known to be the patron saint of Ireland, he was never actually canonised by the Catholic Church.

The reason for this is simply due to the time he was born and lived in, as during the first millennium, there was no formal canonisation process in the Catholic Church.

After becoming a priest and helping to spread Christianity throughout Ireland, Patrick was likely proclaimed a saint through popular demand.

The Irish culture is famously known for its rich legends and myths, and when this is taken into account, it’s no surprise the legend of St Patrick will likely have been exaggerated over time.



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