Millions of people across the world celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17, but few people know what the day is all about. Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland, Australia, Montserrat, and Nigeria, which gives him a universal recognition in the Catholic Church. He is also the Apostle “chosen” by God to the Irish worldwide, just as Saint Paul is God’s “chosen” apostle to the Gentiles. Saint Patrick is credited with introducing Christianity to Ireland and the Christianization of Anglo-Saxons and the Picts. Saint Patrick is among the best-known saints across the globe alongside Saint Teresa of Lisieux. About seven million people bear his name, and several churches are named after him, including Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.
Facts About Saint Patrick
The exact date of birth of Saint Patrick is not known, but it is believed that the Picts captured him during a raiding party in today’s Great Britain, probably Wales or Scotland. He was taken to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. Patrick was tasked with guarding sheep at night on the slopes of the Slemish Mountains in case wild animals attacked. His father was a Catholic Deacon, and Patrick had good knowledge of the religion.
Patrick Becomes A Priest
Patrick escaped slavery after six years and returned home. He recounts a dream where an angel spoke to him at night about a ship leaving Ireland near Dublin for his home port. He was soon reunited with his family and friends. Patrick believed that God had helped him escape and therefore decided to venture into priesthood. He often thought of the Irish and prayed for their conversion to Christianity. In his later life, Patrick confessed that despite being enslaved, he was tormented by voices urging him to go back to Ireland.
Patrick’s Mission To Ireland
Patrick was ordained as a priest and mastered the French and Latin languages. He personally asked to be sent to Ireland as a missionary, where he quickly rose the ranks to become the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland. His goals were to spread Christianity and help Ireland attain independence from the French. Patrick preached about the kingdom of God, baptized many, and built churches wherever he went. He recruited hundreds as deacons in charge of local monasteries. By doing so, Saint Patrick laid the foundation for the Catholic church in Ireland and Western Europe. Irish missionaries spread to Scotland, France, Spain, and as far as North America. Many of his converts established education facilities that helped spread civilization across Europe. Saint Patrick died in 461AD in Armagh, having served as the Archbishop for 29 years.
Sainthood And Remembrance
March 17 is believed to be the day Saint Patrick’s died and is popularly known as Saint Patrick’s Day. Saint Patrick has never been canonized as a pope, but Christian churches consider him a Saint in Heaven. He is venerated in Ireland and by the Orthodox church. The exact place of his burial is not known, but many believe that he was buried at Down Cathedral in County Down, alongside Saint Columba and Saint Brigid.