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The real St. Patrick: Who was Patrick of Ireland?

Every year, many celebrate St. Patrick's Day on March 17. There are parties and parades, and many shamrocks about. But what do we know about Patrick of Ireland?

WASHINGTON — We all know about St. Patrick’s Day. Every year there are St. Patty’s Day Parades.

But what do we know about Patrick of Ireland? 

Well, to begin with, Patrick was British not Irish. He lived in Roman-occupied Britain in the fifth century of the Common Era.

We know little of his life other than that recorded in his “Confessions” and his “Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus” and as well as stories recorded by writers after his lifetime.

At 16, Irish pirates captured Patrick and took him as a slave to Ireland. He was assigned to look after animals. After six years, he managed to escape his captors and return to his Native Britain and his family. He credited his success to hearing a Voice that gave him guidance.

After Patrick’s return home, he earnestly pursued the Christian faith. During this period, he testified to a vision he received. In the Vision, the Irish people plead with him to come and walk among them.

Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Remember to wear green for good luck this Sunday!


Patrick decided to study for the Christian ministry in Europe. In time, he was ordained a priest.

After his studies, he returned to the land of his captivity as a missionary. At the time, Ireland was quite hostile to Christianity. Patrick suffered rejection and persecution.

But he endured and his ministry bore fruit. There are reports that he baptized thousands. Stories of signs and wonders abound as he confounded those who opposed him and won many hearts.

Patrick changed the future of a nation, a nation that had oppressed him, as he won over the hearts of people with a message of compassion, forgiveness and love. There are many stories about Patrick’s exploits, but and his life celebration is far more than parties and parades.

Now, if you're wondering, what is the significance of the Shamrock? It is reported that Patrick used the three-leaved Shamrock to explain the Christian concept of the Trinity.

Patrick of Ireland is another example of how one person can make a difference.

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