The story behind St Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland

On March 17th every year, people across the world wear green, attend church services, join in with parades, and feast, all for Ireland’s Patron Saint, St. Patrick. As with most Saints, many legends surround St Patrick, so the truth is not so easily found, so we’ve researched and gathered some of the most common assumptions about the life and legacy of St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland.

Who was St. Patrick?

Ironically, St Patrick wasn’t actually Irish, nor was his name really Patrick. It’s thought that he was born in AD 387 in Roman Britain to a Christian family, with the birth name Maewyn Succat. Much of St. Patrick’s early life is unknown, however, legend says that he was not actually raised hugely religious and education was not particularly important either.

When St. Patrick was just 16-years-old, Irish pagans suddenly attacked his family’s estate. They captured Patrick and took him to Ireland where he was sold into slavery. It was during his time in Ireland that he turned to religion, believing that his enslavement was God’s test of faith, and so, he become devoted to Christianity.

Why did St. Patrick become the Patron Saint of Ireland?

St. Patrick escaped Ireland after six years, having constantly prayed to God, and returned home to Britain where he reunited with his family. Some historians say he voyaged to France to study Christianity and become a priest, whilst others believed he stayed in Britain. Nonetheless, it’s mutually agreed that he returned to Ireland on a mission to convert the island to Christianity. Whilst preaching in Ireland, he changed his name to Patrick, meaning ‘father figure’ in Latin. Throughout his time in Ireland, St. Patrick supported church officials, created councils, founded monasteries and organised Ireland into dioceses.

Surprisingly, St, Patrick was never actually canonized as a Saint by the Catholic Church. This was simply because during that time period, there was no formal canonization process. However, it’s likely declared a Saint by popular acclaim.

St. Patrick’s Legacy

Historians believe that St. Patrick died around 461 AD in Ireland and was buried in the town of Downpatrick, Country Down. Today, there are several churches and cathedrals across the world that are named after him, most notably in Dublin and Manhattan.

St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated across the world on 17th March every year. It’s a huge celebration and perhaps one of the most celebrated Saints days there is. St. Patrick’s Day was in fact first celebrated in America in 1737 when Boston held its first parade, then followed by New York. Those who celebrate tend to wear green, spend time with friends and like to get drunk, all of course after spending the morning at mass!

Would you like to follow in the footsteps of St. Patrick? We’ve mapped out the perfect route between Belfast, Armagh and Downpatrick. On this three-day trail, soak up spectacular architecture and colourful history, and embark on your own spiritual journey as you follow in Patrick’s footsteps. Check out our St. Patrick’s Footsteps tour here.

You can contact us through our website here if you’d like to discuss this package further or proceed with bookings.

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