Patrick is the patron Saint of Ireland. Renowned for ridding the island of serpents, he had a fascinating life!
Maewyn Succat was born in Scotland to Calphurnius and Conchessa in 387 AD. He was kidnapped by Irish marauders and sold as a slave to a chieftain in County Antrim in Ireland. He acquired his knowledge of the Irish language during this time. He also learnt the love of God as he tended the flocks of sheep in all weathers.
After escaping, he determined to dedicate his life to the service of God. He spent many years studying and working as a missionary throughout Europe and Britain before returning to Ireland around 433.
Pope Celestine bestowed on him the name Patritius meaning ‘father of his people’.
Though often taken captive by Druids and threatened with death many times, Patrick and his companions continued to conquer one pagan kingdom after another. Because of his many hardships he is honoured as a martyr.
Patrick established churches in all provinces of Ireland and managed to convert almost the entire population. Quite a feat!
St Patrick died on the 17th March, 460 at Saul, Downpatrick. On this day, Irish people all over the world celebrate the memory of this great man.
The story that Patrick drove out the serpents is thought to be a metaphor for his driving out the pagan religion. It is unlikely that there ever were any snakes in Ireland.