Who was St Patrick?

We have all heard of St Patrick’s Day – it is on 17 March every year – and the majority of us know that he is the patron saint of Ireland, but what else do we know about St Patrick? Let’s take a look at some interesting facts and figures surrounding this saint.

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Fact not fiction

Interestingly, Patrick was English and not Irish. He lived with his family in a village called Bannavem Taburniae, although it remains a complete mystery as to where this is located and even whether it ever existed.

What is known that when he was a child, he was taken to Ireland by raiders. He was sold as a slave, spending six long years looking after pigs and sheep and spending much of his time praying. He eventually returned to his parents but felt the call of God to return to Ireland. After several years of studying, he became the country’s second bishop.

He is widely considered as bringing Christ’s message to many Irish people who had never heard of Him, playing a major part in converting Irish people to the Christian religion.

He became associated with the shamrock plant, which he used when he explained the concept of the Holy Trinity; indeed, this still endures today with St Patricks Day gifts including this very symbol, such as those available from

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Healing waters

Patrick is said to have baptised thousands of people, remaining steadfast in his beliefs regardless of pagans and fellow clergymen often making his life difficult.

The written word

Towards the end of his life, Patrick wrote about his journey in a work called Confession, which still – along with Letter to Coroticus – survives today. Considered scholarly, Patrick’s writings show that he not only understood the English language but also was well versed in Latin, which he learnt as a priest. He would also, it is assumed, have had to be fluent in Irish to preach to the masses.

The end

On 17 March – hence St Patrick’s Day – in the year 461AD, Patrick died at Saul, Downpatrick in Ireland. The first St Patrick’s Day took place in 1762 in New York, organised and delivered by marching Irish soldiers, and continue to this day throughout the world to honour this exceptional saint.


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