Born at the end of the 4th Century, Patrick was neither Irish nor was his real name Patrick! His real name is known as Maewyn Succat and his place of birth has been narrowed to either Scotland or Roman England, where his father was an officer. The Roman name given him at some point was Patricius, which later became Patrick.
Patrick Kidnapped in Britain
Along with other children, Maewyn was taken prisoner by a band of pirates that had landed in southern Wales and was later sold into slavery where he was transported to Ireland. Legends tell that Maewyn spent six years in captivity in Ireland. During this time, internal changes were forming and Patrick began to search for God and have dreams. In one of these dreams, Patrick was compelled to escape on a vessel.
Once successful, he went first back to Britain and then on to France. There he joined a monastery and was tutored for twelve years by Saint Germain. At some point, he became a bishop. During this time, he felt compelled by God to return to Ireland to proselytize the Irish! So he did exactly that, with the blessing of the pope.
Patrick’s Return to Ireland
In Ireland, Patrick had a great impact on the native pagans, converting them to Christianity and baptizing them. His journeys took him far and wide around the country. He was known for his confidence in God, his generosity and his untiring nature. He was so zealous and diplomatic that he attracted members of the royal family, eventually converting even them.
Such behavior and tenacity annoyed the Celtic Druid sect which ruled the land. They would arrest him. He would escape. They would arrest him again. He would escape. And so on. For around twenty years Patrick paved the spiritual path in his missionary work in Ireland. During this stint he set up monasteries, schools and churches. He fostered clergy among the natives and spread monotheism. After his death, he left his legacy in writings. The most popular among these was an autobiography called, The Confessio.
St. Patrick Becomes a Legend
A couple of hundred years later, St. Patrick had grown to be a legendary figure. One of the icons associated with St. Patrick’s Day is a three-leaf clover. St. Patrick coined his teaching of the gospel with a shamrock, teaching the Trinity. Another legend tells of St. Patrick cursing venomous snakes and driving them over a cliff into the sea in Ireland.
While no exact date is known for St. Patrick’s birth, the date of his death is recorded. That date is March 17, 461. This man has been celebrated ever since, for over 1500 years. St. Patrick’s Day is a legendary day in which the Irish have rejoiced in being Irish and have carried with them this legacy and tradition into the new lands they migrated.
St. Patrick’s Day has grown into a holiday celebration that includes not only shamrocks, but also leprechauns, the Blarney stone, a pot of gold, the color green and well, corned beef and hash! For all of those celebrating in the evening, as you tip your head back and swig some green beer, remember the man behind the date. May Christians think of him today and carry his zeal. May the road rise up to greet you!
Written by Jori Sams
Jori Sams is a Christian author and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet, with over 1500 being published by Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun…