The True Story of St. Patrick and St. Patrick’s Day


St. Patrick is not Irish, he was born in England when it was still Roman Brittania, and part of the Roman Empire. By birth he was Roman-English. His native tongue was Latin. His birth name was Maewyn Succat. Though no exact year of birth is known, it is considered by historians to be sometime in late 300’s or early 400’s AD. His father was a Christian Deacon, though many think it was for tax purposes. He was not a holy man, nor was Maewyn.

Maewyn was captured by Irish invaders and taken to Northern Ireland as a slave when he was about 16 years of age. He spent several years as a slave shepherd, and finally escaped back to England. He became intrigued by monasticism and converted to Catholicism. At that time, it is claimed he had a vision to return to Ireland and convert the Druid society to Catholicism. It was then he adopted the name Patrick (Padrag in Irish).

At first, he wasn’t welcomed and was forced to some outer islands, where he gained a large following. He returned to mainland Ireland and was embraced. He succeeded and is said to have baptized some 100,00 people. He also anointed priests, established convents for women, and built some 300 churches. He used the shamrock to demonstrate the Trinity. This is why the shamrock is associated with St. Patrick’s Day.

His estimated death occurred on March 17, 461 AD and since then is celebrated as St. Patrick’s Day. While he is deemed a Saint, he has never been officially canonized by any Pope, though he is listed and recognized as a saint in all Catholicism.

To the future, he is revered in Ireland as the man who brought Christianity to Ireland and is designated as the Patron Saint of Ireland for this reason. Today still, this is celebrated as a religious occasion in Ireland. It is Holy Day of Obligation and Mass is mandatory. It occurs during Lent, though the Priest of local parishes removes the ban on consuming meat and alcohol. So, after services people eat, drink, and make merry like only the Irish can.

Now the myths…No St. Patrick did not chase the snake out of Ireland. They don’t have snakes and hopefully never will. It you are snake averse, might be a nice place to retire.

Leprechauns have nothing to do with St. Patrick’s Day. They were a druid legend of small fairies who were very mischievous and excellent cobblers. They weren’t green and wore red clothing. They repaired shoes of other fairies while they slept. They became especially glamorized in the 50’s with Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People movie.

Green is relatively new. It’s appropriate considering it’s not to called the Emerald Isle for no reason and has been adopted even in Ireland. The original color was blue, when the King of England declared himself King of Ireland too, and blue was his royal color. Some Irish traditionalists still wear blue not green.

The famous St. Patrick’s Day parades started in America. The original Irish immigrants were Protestant. During the Irish potato famine, many more Irish Catholics fled to America to escape starvation. They were not met with enthusiasm and couldn’t even find menial jobs. Soon the older Protestant community realized they had a huge voting block on their hands, and the first parade in Boston took root. Now there are parades everywhere. The parade in Savannah, Georgia was the original and is in it’s 199th year,