History of St Patrick’s Day explained – how British slave became Patron Saint

St Patrick’s Day isn’t just an excuse to drink and party.

The day is a celebration of St Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, whose life story was powerful and dramatic.

So what is the story of why we celebrate St Patrick’s Day? Well, it may come as a surprise the Patrick wasn’t Irish – he was British.

In fact, he wasn’t even called Patrick. His name was Maewyn Succat, and it’s believed he was born in either England, Scotland or Wales around the year of 385 AD.

When he was 16 he was kidnapped by Irish pirates, and taken to Ireland as a slave.

Although brought to Ireland against his will, he would go on to become synonymous with the island itself.

He worked as a shepherd on a quiet mountainside for six years, becoming increasingly lonely.

This is when his faith in christianity blossomed, and would pray as many as 100 times a day – and the same at night.

Succat would go on to write in the Confessio that an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him: “You have fasted well. Very soon you will return to your native country”.

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After six years he escaped and returned to his family in Britain in a cargo ship. They begged him not to leave them – but his religious visions returned.

After studying in other various of Europe he became a priest, and 15 years later, in 432 AD he became a bishop and was given the name Patricius.

He was eventually sent to Ireland in a mission to convert the country to Christianity.

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Patrick’s knowledge of Ireland’s language and customs made his job easier, and he would use the Irish symbolic three leaf clover to explain the Holy Trinity – the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

The shamrock later became the unofficial national flower of Ireland.

He managed to convert thousands before he died on March 17 461 AD, when he became the legend of St Patrick.

He is known as the Patron Saint of Ireland because he dedicated his life to christianity, and brought it to the country although he wasn’t Irish himself.

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