St Patrick was a fifth-century Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland.
He is also known as the “Apostle of Ireland” and is the primary patron saint of Ireland.
He was born around 387 AD in Britain and died on March 17 461 AD.
We celebrate his feast day on March 17 every year in the Catholic Church.
St Patrick is the Patron Saint of
- Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark
- Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles
- Rolla, Missouri
- Murcia (Spain)
- Loíza, Puerto Rico
- Invoked against snakes and sins
- Clann Giolla Phádraig
- Archdiocese of New York
- Archdiocese of Melbourne, Australia
|St Patrick, Bishop Biography|
|Date of Birth||385 AD|
|Place of Birth||Great Britain|
|Profession||Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland.|
|Place of Work||Ireland|
|Date of Death||6th Century|
|Place of Death||Ireland|
|Feast Day||March 17|
|Patron Saint of||
St Patrick Life History
Saint Patrick, a bishop and Christian missionary, lived in Britain but evangelized in Ireland during the fifth century.
He is widely recognized as the primary patron saint of Ireland and is commonly referred to as the “Apostle of Ireland.”
Along with Brigid of Kildare and Columba, he is one of the country’s patron saints. Saint Patrick lived during the end of Roman rule in Britain and is only known through two brief works: the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and his Letter to Coroticus, a condemnation of British mistreatment of Irish Christians.
Saint Patrick is credited with introducing Christianity to Ireland and converting its predominantly pagan society to Christianity. He served as the first bishop of Armagh and was also the Primate of Ireland.
Saint Patrick’s family had a strong religious background. His father, Calpurnius, was a deacon and a decurion, which is a high-ranking local official and tax collector in the Roman Empire. Meanwhile, his grandfather, Potitus, was a priest hailing from the town of Bonaven Tabernia.
Saint Patrick’s life took a dramatic turn when he was about sixteen years old. At that time, he was captured by Irish pirates and taken as a slave to Ireland from his home in Britain.
During his captivity, he was tasked with tending to animals and remained in Ireland for six years. However, he eventually escaped after having a dream from God, instructing him to leave Ireland by going to the coast.
After reaching the coast, he encountered some sailors who agreed to take him back to Britain, where he was reunited with his family.
During his captivity in Ireland, Saint Patrick was said to have turned to Christianity and sought forgiveness for his sins, with the help of the Lord’s mercy despite his youth and lack of knowledge. After returning to his home in Britain, he continued to study and practice Christianity.
After his return to Britain, Saint Patrick pursued his religious studies in Europe, primarily in the city of Auxerre.
It is also believed that he may have visited the Marmoutier Abbey in Tours and received the tonsure at the Lérins Abbey. Later, he was ordained as a priest by Saint Germanus of Auxerre, who was a prominent bishop in the Western Church.
As a cleric, Saint Patrick traveled back to northern and western parts of Ireland, where he continued his work as a Christian missionary.
Saint Patrick initially faced resistance from the locals upon his arrival at the coast of Ireland where he landed.
Due to the hostility, he was compelled to leave the area and search for a more welcoming landing spot further north.
After some time, he rested on the islands off the Skerries coast, where he stayed for several days. One of these islands, which retains the name of Inis-Patrick, is believed to have been named in his honor.
Saint Patrick is said to have had a significant impact on the spread of Christianity in Ireland. He baptized thousands of people, including those who had enslaved him, and aimed to convert his former captors as well.
He also ordained priests to help lead the new Christian communities he established. In addition, he faced opposition from wealthy families when converting women to Christianity, some of whom went on to become nuns.
Saint Patrick even managed to convert the sons of kings, further spreading the Christian faith across Ireland.
As a foreigner in Ireland, Saint Patrick’s position was not an easy one. His rejection of gifts from kings meant that he was unable to form normal bonds of kinship, fosterage, and affinity, which placed him at a disadvantage.
Additionally, he had no legal protection, leaving him vulnerable to mistreatment. In fact, Saint Patrick himself stated that he was once beaten, robbed, and put in chains, potentially awaiting execution.
Furthermore, he was held captive for 60 days many years later, indicating that his situation in Ireland was often fraught with danger and uncertainty.
According to legend, Saint Patrick used the shamrock, a three-leafed plant, to explain the doctrine of the Holy Trinity to the Irish people.
This concept of three persons in one God was illustrated by the plant’s three leaves. In many depictions of Saint Patrick, he is shown holding a cross in one hand and a sprig of shamrocks in the other, as a symbol of his teachings and influence in Ireland.
Legend holds that Saint Patrick banished all the snakes from Ireland. It is said that just like Moses fasted on Mount Sinai for 40 days, Patrick undertook a 40-day fast on the mountaintop of Cruachán Aigle, and the snakes attacked him.
In response, he chased them into the sea and as a result, all snakes were banished from the island of Ireland. The mountain where Saint Patrick undertook his fast is now known as Croagh Patrick (Cruach Phádraig) in honor of the saint.
According to tradition, in 445 AD, Saint Patrick founded his main church at Armagh (Ard Mhacha). However, a pagan chieftain named Dáire initially denied Patrick permission to build the church on the hill of Ard Mhacha and instead gave him lower ground to the east.
Later, when Dáire’s horses died after grazing on the church land, he blamed Patrick and ordered his men to kill him. However, Dáire himself fell ill and was on the brink of death.
His men pleaded with Patrick to heal him, and with the use of Holy Water, Dáire and his horses were miraculously revived.
In gratitude, Dáire rewarded Patrick with a great bronze cauldron and gave him the hill of Ard Mhacha to build a church. This church eventually became the head church of Ireland.
According to another story, there was a pagan leader called Crom. St. Patrick requested food from Crom, who sent his bull with the intention that it would attack or even kill Patrick.
However, the bull surprisingly showed no aggression and allowed itself to be killed and consumed by Patrick.
Crom demanded the return of his bull, but Patrick used its bones and hide to resurrect the animal. Some versions of the story suggest that Crom was amazed by this miracle and converted to Christianity, while in others, he was killed by the revived bull.
St Patrick’s Day
Saint Patrick’s Day, which is celebrated on March 17th, is the day that marks the alleged date of St. Patrick’s death and is recognized as his feast day.
The reason it became a feast day in the Catholic Church can be attributed to the efforts of Luke Wadding, a Franciscan scholar who was born in Waterford.
In the early 17th century, he was part of a commission tasked with reforming the Breviary, and it was through his influence that Saint Patrick’s Day was officially recognized as a feast day.
Saint Patrick’s Day is observed as a religious and cultural holiday not only in Ireland but also in many other countries around the world.
Within the dioceses of Ireland, it is considered both a solemnity and a holy day of obligation. Additionally, the holiday is also a celebration of Ireland itself, its culture, and its history.
Saint Patrick is a prominent figure in Irish folklore and oral tradition, and many stories and legends have been passed down through generations.
His feast day on March 17th is celebrated with various customs and traditions, which have become an important part of Irish identity both in Ireland and around the world.
In Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day is a national holiday, and it is celebrated with parades, music, and traditional Irish food and drink.
It is also a time for family gatherings and community events. Abroad, Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated by people of Irish descent in many countries, with events and festivals often organized by Irish cultural organizations.
These celebrations often include traditional Irish music and dance performances, parades, and the display of the Irish flag and other symbols of Irish culture.
Saint Patrick has become a symbol of Irish identity and heritage, and his legacy is celebrated by people of Irish descent throughout the world.
According to tradition, St. Patrick’s final resting place is at Down Cathedral located in the town of Downpatrick, County Down. He is believed to be buried alongside two other prominent saints, Saint Brigid and Saint Columba.
The Saint Patrick Visitor Centre is a contemporary exhibition complex situated in Downpatrick, and it houses a permanent interpretive exhibition that showcases the life and story of Saint Patrick.
The centre boasts interactive displays, which allow visitors to engage with the exhibits, providing an immersive experience. This is the only permanent exhibition centre in the world that is dedicated to Saint Patrick.
Saint Patrick’s Breastplate
Saint Patrick’s Breastplate is a type of hymn called a “lorica,” which is said to have been composed by Patrick during his time as a missionary in Ireland in the 5th century.
The hymn is called a “breastplate” because it was believed to have been a prayer of protection for Patrick and his followers as they traveled throughout Ireland spreading the Christian faith.
The Cross Pattée and the Saltire
The two crosses traditionally associated with Saint Patrick are the cross pattée and the Saltire. Saint Patrick is often depicted in the vestments of a bishop, and his mitre and garments are frequently adorned with a cross pattée, which is a type of cross with arms that taper towards the center.
This type of cross is a common Christian symbol and is used to represent a variety of different things, such as the four evangelists or the four directions.
The Saltire, also known as the St. Andrew’s Cross, is another symbol often associated with Saint Patrick, particularly in Scotland, where it is a national symbol.
Saint Patrick’s Saltire is a red saltire (diagonal cross) on a white background. This flag is used in the insignia of the Order of Saint Patrick, which was founded in 1783.
After the Acts of Union in 1800, the Saint Patrick’s Saltire was merged with the Saint George’s Cross of England and the Saint Andrew’s Cross of Scotland to create the Union Flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which is also known as the Union Jack.
Today, Saint Patrick’s Saltire is still recognized as a symbol of Irish identity and is used in various flags, emblems, and logos across Ireland.
The cross pattée remains closely associated with Saint Patrick even to this day, and it appears on various emblems and symbols related to him.
For instance, it is included on the coat of arms of both the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Armagh and the Church of Ireland Archdiocese of Armagh, as Patrick is considered the first bishop of the Diocese of Armagh.
The cross pattée is also utilized by the Down District Council, which is headquartered in Downpatrick, where Saint Patrick is believed to be buried.
St Patrick’s Bell
Saint Patrick’s Bell is currently housed at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. The bell is part of a collection of “relics of Patrick” that were removed from his tomb about sixty years after his death and used as holy relics.
The bell is made of iron and bronze, and it is said to have been one of Patrick’s possessions. The bell is intricately decorated with various designs, including images of animals and human faces.
The bell has been a revered artifact for many centuries and is considered an important part of Saint Patrick’s legacy.
St Patrick Prayer
May the Strength of God pilot us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Host of God guard us.
Against the snares of the evil ones.
Against temptations of the world
May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
May Christ be over all!
May Thy Salvation, Lord, Always be ours
This day, O Lord, and evermore. Amen.
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