Of course, everybody loves to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in March by pretending to be Irish, but how many people truly remember the real story of St. Patrick and the fascinating history of Ireland? The real Saint Patrick was a fascinating figure with a privileged and challenging life. It is amazing that Hollywood has not tried to make a blockbuster movie of his life and times.
Many details of Saint Patrick’s life have been made up or manufactured by writers who wrote hundreds of years after Saint Patrick died on March 17th around the year 460. As you can imagine trying to put together the facts of St. Patrick’s life and separating the rumors from the truth is very difficult. Saint Patrick lived over 1,500 years ago and only a couple of authentic missives that were written by him have been found.
Most history scholars believe his given name at birth was Maewyn Succat and he was probably born in Roman Britain. That is right, Saint Patrick was not even Irish! His Romanized name was Patricius which is how he came to be known as Saint Patrick. Not much is known about his birth parents, though it is generally thought that his father’s name was Calpornius and he was either a deacon or an officer in the Roman-British army.
When he was about the age of 16 pirates took him and many other children to Ireland where they were sold into servitude. St. Patrick’s first visit to Ireland was actually not his own choice. After suffering as a slave for about six years he claims he heard a spiritual voice tell him that he would be home soon and he took that as a sign to escape for his freedom. He was able to escape and he traveled home to his parents as a young man. He later traveled to France and joined a monastery where he later became a bishop.
It was around the time he became a bishop that be began having visions just as he did before which told him to go back to Ireland. With the Pope’s permission he traveled to Ireland to convert the Gaelic Irish to Christianity. Saint Patrick was nothing if not amazingly brave! By most accounts he was very good at preaching, he baptized thousands of people, he built many churches and although he made friends among the rich and powerful families of Ireland he was not corrupt.
He is believed to have passed away while living in Ireland on March 17th. Though there is no way to absolutely prove his date of death or most of the other “facts” about his life it’s still important to remember his faith and hard work and his love for the Irish people. THe definitely did not scare all the snakes out of Ireland as some stories state, simply because there was never any proof of ever being in Ireland. he shamrock is often associated with Irish culture and St. Patrick because it was once rumored that he may have utilized it as a method of teaching pagans about the Holy Trinity: God, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit.