Saint Patrick
Overview
 
Saint Patrick was a Romano-Briton and Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 missionary
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

, who is the most generally recognized patron saint
Patron saint
A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person...

 of Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 or the Apostle
Apostle (Christian)
The term apostle is derived from Classical Greek ἀπόστολος , meaning one who is sent away, from στέλλω + από . The literal meaning in English is therefore an "emissary", from the Latin mitto + ex...

 of Ireland
, although Brigid of Kildare
Brigid of Kildare
Saint Brigit of Kildare, or Brigit of Ireland , nicknamed Mary of the Gael is one of Ireland's patron saints along with Saints Patrick and Columba...

 and Colmcille
Columba
Saint Columba —also known as Colum Cille , Colm Cille , Calum Cille and Kolban or Kolbjørn —was a Gaelic Irish missionary monk who propagated Christianity among the Picts during the Early Medieval Period...

 are also formally patron saints.

Two authentic letters from him survive, from which come the only universally accepted details of his life. When he was about 16, he was captured from Wales by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family.
Quotations

I am not addressing my own people, nor my fellow citizens of the holy Romans, but those who are now become citizens of demons by reason of their evil works. They have chosen, by their hostile deeds, to live in death; comrades of the Scotti and Picts and of all who behave like apostates, bloody men who have steeped themselves in the blood of innocent Christians. The very same people I have begotten for God; their number beyond count, I myself confirmed them in Christ.

Because of all this, I am at a loss to know whether to weep more for those they killed or those that are captured: or indeed for these men themselves whom the devil has taken fast for his slaves. In truth, they will bind themselves alongside him in the pains of the everlasting pit: for "he who sins is a slave already" and is to be called "son of the devil."

I do not overreach myself, for I too have my part to play with "those whom he has called to himself and predestined" to teach the gospel in the midst of considerable persecutions "as far as the ends of the earth, even if the enemy reveals h's true envy through the tyranny of Coroticus, who fears neither God nor the priests whom he has chosen and to whom he has given the highest divine power, namely that "those whom they bind on earth are bound in heaven."

How bitterly they despise me! just see how your sheep are torn apart and despoiled, and by those gangsters I have named, bound to the last man by the inimical mind of Coroticus. Far away from the love of God is the man who betrays my Christians into the hands of the Scotti and Picts. "Ravenous wolves" have gulped down the Lord's own flock, which was flourishing in Ireland and tended with utmost care.

I grieve for you, how I mourn for you, who are so very dear to me, but again I can rejoice within my heart, not for nothing "have I labored," neither has my exile been "in vain."

Now you, Coroticus— and your gangsters, rebels all against Christ, now where do you see yourselves? You gave away girls like prizes: not yet women, but baptized. All for some petty temporal gain that will pass in the very next instant. "Like a cloud passes, or smoke blown in the wind," so will "sinners, who cheat, slip away from the face of the Lord. But the just will feast for sure" with Christ. "They will judge the nations" and unjust kings "they will lord over" for world after world. Amen.

Encyclopedia
Saint Patrick was a Romano-Briton and Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 missionary
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

, who is the most generally recognized patron saint
Patron saint
A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person...

 of Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 or the Apostle
Apostle (Christian)
The term apostle is derived from Classical Greek ἀπόστολος , meaning one who is sent away, from στέλλω + από . The literal meaning in English is therefore an "emissary", from the Latin mitto + ex...

 of Ireland
, although Brigid of Kildare
Brigid of Kildare
Saint Brigit of Kildare, or Brigit of Ireland , nicknamed Mary of the Gael is one of Ireland's patron saints along with Saints Patrick and Columba...

 and Colmcille
Columba
Saint Columba —also known as Colum Cille , Colm Cille , Calum Cille and Kolban or Kolbjørn —was a Gaelic Irish missionary monk who propagated Christianity among the Picts during the Early Medieval Period...

 are also formally patron saints.

Two authentic letters from him survive, from which come the only universally accepted details of his life. When he was about 16, he was captured from Wales by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After entering the Church, he returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop in the north and west of the island, but little is known about the places where he worked. By the seventh century, he had come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland.

Most available details of his life are from later hagiographies from the seventh century onwards, and these are now not accepted without detailed criticism. Uncritical acceptance of the Annals of Ulster
Annals of Ulster
The Annals of Ulster are annals of medieval Ireland. The entries span the years between AD 431 to AD 1540. The entries up to AD 1489 were compiled in the late 15th century by the scribe Ruaidhrí Ó Luinín, under his patron Cathal Óg Mac Maghnusa on the island of Belle Isle on Lough Erne in the...

would imply that he lived from 340 to 440, and ministered in what is modern day Northern Ireland from 428 onwards. The dates of Patrick's life cannot be fixed with certainty, but on a widespread interpretation he was active as a missionary in Ireland during the second half of the 5th century.

Saint Patrick's Day
Saint Patrick's Day
Saint Patrick's Day is a religious holiday celebrated internationally on 17 March. It commemorates Saint Patrick , the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of :Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion , the Eastern...

 is observed on March 17, the date of Patrick's death. It is celebrated both in and outside of Ireland, as both a liturgical and non-liturgical holiday. In the dioceses of Ireland it is both a solemnity
Solemnity
A Solemnity of the Roman Catholic Church is a principal holy day in the liturgical calendar, usually commemorating an event in the life of Jesus, his mother Mary, or other important saints. The observance begins with the vigil on the evening before the actual date of the feast...

 and a holy day of obligation
Holy Day of Obligation
In the Catholic Church, Holy Days of Obligation or Holidays of Obligation, less commonly called Feasts of Precept, are the days on which, as of the Code of Canon Law states,-Eastern Catholic Churches:...

 and outside of Ireland, it can be a celebration of Ireland itself.

Background

Most modern studies of Saint Patrick follow a variant of T. F. O'Rahilly
T. F. O'Rahilly
Thomas Francis O'Rahilly was an Irish scholar of the Celtic languages, particularly in the fields of Historical linguistics and Irish dialects. He was a member of the Royal Irish Academy.-Biography:He was born in Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland...

's "Two Patricks" theory. That is to say, many of the traditions later attached to Saint Patrick originally concerned Palladius
Palladius
Palladius was the first Bishop of the Christians of Ireland, preceding Saint Patrick. The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion consider Palladius a saint.-Armorica:...

, who Prosper of Aquitaine
Prosper of Aquitaine
Saint Prosper of Aquitaine , a Christian writer and disciple of Saint Augustine of Hippo, was the first continuator of Jerome's Universal Chronicle.- Life :...

's Chronicle says was sent by Pope Celestine I
Pope Celestine I
Pope Saint Celestine I was elevated to the papacy in the year 422, on November 3 according to the Liber Pontificalis, but on April 10 according to Tillemont....

 as the first bishop to Irish Christians in 431. Palladius was not the only early cleric in Ireland at this time. The Irish born Saint Ciaran Saighir (the Elder) lived in the later 4th century (352–402 AD) and was the first bishop of Ossory. Ciaran the Elder along with Saints Auxilius
Auxilius of Ireland
Saint Auxilius, or Usaille, was an early Christian missionary of Ireland who is associated with Saint Patrick, Saint Seachnaill , and Saint Iserninus in establishing Christianity in the south of that island....

, Secundinus
Seachnaill
Saint Secundinus , or Sechnall as he was known in Irish, was founder and patron saint of Domnach Sechnaill, now Dunshaughlin , who went down in medieval tradition as a disciple of St Patrick and one of the first bishops of Armagh...

 and Iserninus
Iserninus
Saint Iserninus was an early Christian missionary of Ireland who is associated with Saint Patrick and Saint Auxilius in establishing Christianity in the south of that island....

 are also associated with early churches in Munster
Munster
Munster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial purposes...

 and Leinster
Leinster
Leinster is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the east of Ireland. It comprises the ancient Kingdoms of Mide, Osraige and Leinster. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the historic fifths of Leinster and Mide gradually merged, mainly due to the impact of the Pale, which straddled...

. By this reading, Palladius
Palladius
Palladius was the first Bishop of the Christians of Ireland, preceding Saint Patrick. The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion consider Palladius a saint.-Armorica:...

 was active in Ireland until the 460s.

Prosper associates Palladius
Palladius
Palladius was the first Bishop of the Christians of Ireland, preceding Saint Patrick. The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion consider Palladius a saint.-Armorica:...

' appointment with the visits of Germanus of Auxerre
Germanus of Auxerre
Germanus of Auxerre was a bishop of Auxerre in Gaul. He is a saint in both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, commemorated on July 31. He visited Britain in around 429 and the records of this visit provide valuable information on the state of post-Roman British society...

 to Britain to suppress the Pelagian heresy
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 and it has been suggested that Palladius
Palladius
Palladius was the first Bishop of the Christians of Ireland, preceding Saint Patrick. The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion consider Palladius a saint.-Armorica:...

 and his colleagues were sent to Ireland to ensure that exiled Pelagians did not establish themselves among the Irish Christians. The appointment of Palladius
Palladius
Palladius was the first Bishop of the Christians of Ireland, preceding Saint Patrick. The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion consider Palladius a saint.-Armorica:...

 and his fellow-bishops was not obviously a mission to convert the Irish, but more probably intended to minister to existing Christian communities in Ireland. The sites of churches associated with Palladius
Palladius
Palladius was the first Bishop of the Christians of Ireland, preceding Saint Patrick. The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion consider Palladius a saint.-Armorica:...

 and his colleagues are close to royal centres of the period: Secundus is remembered by Dunshaughlin
Dunshaughlin
-History:It is named after Saint Seachnall, who established a church there in the 5th century.Máel Seachlainn was ancestor to the principal family of Brega, Ó Maoilsheachlainn, is descended...

, County Meath
County Meath
County Meath is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the ancient Kingdom of Mide . Meath County Council is the local authority for the county...

, close to the Hill of Tara
Hill of Tara
The Hill of Tara , located near the River Boyne, is an archaeological complex that runs between Navan and Dunshaughlin in County Meath, Leinster, Ireland...

 which is associated with the High King of Ireland
High King of Ireland
The High Kings of Ireland were sometimes historical and sometimes legendary figures who had, or who are claimed to have had, lordship over the whole of Ireland. Medieval and early modern Irish literature portrays an almost unbroken sequence of High Kings, ruling from Tara over a hierarchy of...

; Killashee
Killashee
Killashee is a village in County Longford, Ireland. It is situated on the N63 midway between Lanesborough and Longford, near the Royal Canal and east of the River Shannon.-Sport:Killashee is home to St...

, County Kildare
County Kildare
County Kildare is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Kildare. Kildare County Council is the local authority for the county...

, close to Naas
Naas
Naas is the county town of County Kildare in Ireland. With a population of just over twenty thousand, it is also the largest town in the county. Naas is a major commuter suburb, with many people residing there and working in Dublin...

 with links with the Kings of Leinster
Kings of Leinster
The following is a provisional list of the kings of Leinster who ruled the Irish kingdom of Leinster up to 1632 with the death of Domhnall Spainnach MacMurrough-Kavanagh, the last legitimately inaugurated head of the MacMurrough Kavanagh royal line...

, is probably named for Auxilius. This activity was limited to the southern half of Ireland, and there is no evidence for them in Ulster
Ulster
Ulster is one of the four provinces of Ireland, located in the north of the island. In ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for administrative and judicial...

 or Connacht
Connacht
Connacht , formerly anglicised as Connaught, is one of the Provinces of Ireland situated in the west of Ireland. In Ancient Ireland, it was one of the fifths ruled by a "king of over-kings" . Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into a number of counties for...

.

Although the evidence for contacts with Gaul is clear, the borrowings from Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 into the Old Irish language
Old Irish language
Old Irish is the name given to the oldest form of the Goidelic languages for which extensive written texts are extant. It was used from the 6th to the 10th centuries, by which time it had developed into Middle Irish....

 show that links with former Roman Britain were many. Saint Iserninus
Iserninus
Saint Iserninus was an early Christian missionary of Ireland who is associated with Saint Patrick and Saint Auxilius in establishing Christianity in the south of that island....

, who appears to be of the generation of Palladius
Palladius
Palladius was the first Bishop of the Christians of Ireland, preceding Saint Patrick. The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion consider Palladius a saint.-Armorica:...

, is thought to have been a Briton, and is associated with the lands of the Uí Cheinnselaig
Uí Cheinnselaig
The Uí Ceinnselaig , from the Old Irish "grandsons of Cennsalach", are an Irish dynasty of Leinster who trace their descent from Énnae Cennsalach, a supposed contemporary of Niall of the Nine Hostages...

 in Leinster. The Palladian mission should not be contrasted with later "British" missions, but forms a part of them.

In his own words

Two Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 letters survive which are generally accepted to have been written by Patrick. These are the Declaration and the Letter to the soldiers of Coroticus . The Declaration is the more important of the two. In it Patrick gives a short account of his life and his mission.

Patrick was born in Roman Britain
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

 at Banna Venta Berniae, a location otherwise unknown, though identified in one tradition as Glannoventa, modern Ravenglass
Ravenglass
Ravenglass is a small coastal village and natural harbour in Cumbria, England. It is the only coastal town within the Lake District National Park...

 in Cumbria
Cumbria
Cumbria , is a non-metropolitan county in North West England. The county and Cumbria County Council, its local authority, came into existence in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972. Cumbria's largest settlement and county town is Carlisle. It consists of six districts, and in...

 . Calpornius, his father, was a deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

, his grandfather Potitus, a priest. When he was about sixteen, he was captured and carried off as a slave to Ireland. Patrick worked as a herdsman, remaining a captive for six years. He writes that his faith grew in captivity, and that he prayed daily. After six years he heard a voice telling him that he would soon go home, and then that his ship was ready. Fleeing his master, he travelled to a port, two hundred miles away he says, where he found a ship and, after various adventures, returned home to his family, now in his early twenties.

Patrick recounts that he had a vision a few years after returning home:
I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: "The Voice of the Irish". As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: "We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.


A. B. E. Hood suggests that the Victoricus of Patrick's vision may be identified with Saint Victricius
Victricius
Saint Victricius was a bishop of Rouen , missionary, and author. His feast day is August 7. Victricius was the son of a Roman legionnaire, and was in the army himself. However, when he became a Christian, he refused to remain in the army. He was flogged and sentenced for execution, but...

, bishop of Rouen
Rouen
Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

 in the late 4th century, who was the only European churchman of the time to advocate or practice conversion of pagans, and who visited Britain in an official capacity in 396.

Much of the Declaration concerns charges made against Patrick by his fellow Christians at a trial. What these charges were, he does not say explicitly, but he writes that he returned the gifts which wealthy women gave him, did not accept payment for baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

s, nor for ordaining priests, and indeed paid for many gifts to kings and judges, and paid for the sons of chiefs to accompany him. It is concluded, therefore, that he was accused of some sort of financial impropriety, and perhaps of having obtained his bishopric in Ireland with personal gain in mind.

From this same evidence, something can be seen of Patrick's mission. He writes that he "baptised thousands of people". He ordained priests to lead the new Christian communities. He converted wealthy women, some of whom became nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

s in the face of family opposition. He also dealt with the sons of kings, converting them too.

Patrick's position as a foreigner in Ireland was not an easy one. His refusal to accept gifts from kings placed him outside the normal ties of kinship, fosterage and affinity. Legally he was without protection, and he says that he was on one occasion beaten, robbed of all he had, and put in chains, perhaps awaiting execution.

Murchiú's life of Saint Patrick contains a supposed prophecy by the druid
Druid
A druid was a member of the priestly class in Britain, Ireland, and Gaul, and possibly other parts of Celtic western Europe, during the Iron Age....

s which gives an impression of how Patrick and other Christian missionaries were seen by those hostile to them:
Across the sea will come Adze
Adze
An adze is a tool used for smoothing or carving rough-cut wood in hand woodworking. Generally, the user stands astride a board or log and swings the adze downwards towards his feet, chipping off pieces of wood, moving backwards as they go and leaving a relatively smooth surface behind...

-head, crazed in the head,
his cloak with hole for the head, his stick bent in the head.
He will chant impieties from a table in the front of his house;
all his people will answer: "so be it, so be it."


The second piece of evidence that comes from Patrick's life is the Letter to Coroticus or Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus, written after a first remonstrance was received with ridicule and insult. In this, Patrick writes an open letter
Open letter
An open letter is a letter that is intended to be read by a wide audience, or a letter intended for an individual, but that is nonetheless widely distributed intentionally....

 announcing that he has excommunicated Coroticus because he had taken some of Patrick's converts into slavery while raiding in Ireland. The letter describes the followers of Coroticus as "fellow citizens of the devils" and "associates of the Scots [ie, the Irish of Argyll
Argyll
Argyll , archaically Argyle , is a region of western Scotland corresponding with most of the part of ancient Dál Riata that was located on the island of Great Britain, and in a historical context can be used to mean the entire western coast between the Mull of Kintyre and Cape Wrath...

 and northern Ireland] and Apostate
Apostasy
Apostasy , 'a defection or revolt', from ἀπό, apo, 'away, apart', στάσις, stasis, 'stand, 'standing') is the formal disaffiliation from or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. One who commits apostasy is known as an apostate. These terms have a pejorative implication in everyday...

 Picts
Picts
The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in what is now eastern and northern Scotland. There is an association with the distribution of brochs, place names beginning 'Pit-', for instance Pitlochry, and Pictish stones. They are recorded from before the Roman conquest...

". Based largely on an 8th-century gloss, Coroticus is taken to be King Ceretic of Alt Clut
Ceretic of Alt Clut
Ceretic Guletic of Alt Clut was a king of Alt Clut in the 5th century. He has been identified with Coroticus, a Britonnic warrior addressed in a letter by Saint Patrick. Of Patrick's two surviving letters, one is addressed to the warband of this Coroticus...

. It has been suggested that it was the sending of this letter which provoked the trial which Patrick mentions in the Confession.

Death

According to the latest reconstruction of the old Irish annals, Patrick died in AD 493 on March 17, a date accepted by some modern historians. Prior to the 1940s it was believed without doubt that he died in 420 and thus had lived in the first half of the 5th century. A lecture entitled "The Two Patricks", published in 1942 by T. F. O'Rahilly
T. F. O'Rahilly
Thomas Francis O'Rahilly was an Irish scholar of the Celtic languages, particularly in the fields of Historical linguistics and Irish dialects. He was a member of the Royal Irish Academy.-Biography:He was born in Listowel, County Kerry, Ireland...

, caused enormous controversy by proposing that there had been two "Patricks", Palladius
Palladius
Palladius was the first Bishop of the Christians of Ireland, preceding Saint Patrick. The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion consider Palladius a saint.-Armorica:...

 and Patrick, and that what we now know of St. Patrick was in fact in part a conscious effort to blend the two into one hagiographic
Hagiography
Hagiography is the study of saints.From the Greek and , it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common...

 personality. Decades of contention eventually ended with most historians now asserting that Patrick was indeed most likely to have been active in the latter half of the fifth century.

While Patrick's own writings contain no dates, they do contain information which can be used to date them. Patrick's quotations from the Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

 follow the Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

, strongly suggesting that his ecclesiastical conversion did not take place before the early 5th century. Patrick also refers to the Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 as being pagans. Their conversion is dated to the period 496–508.

There is plentiful evidence for a medieval tradition that Patrick had died in 493. An addition to the Annals of Ulster
Annals of Ulster
The Annals of Ulster are annals of medieval Ireland. The entries span the years between AD 431 to AD 1540. The entries up to AD 1489 were compiled in the late 15th century by the scribe Ruaidhrí Ó Luinín, under his patron Cathal Óg Mac Maghnusa on the island of Belle Isle on Lough Erne in the...

 states that in the year 553 (approximately two hundred and fifty years before the addition was made):
I have found this in the Book of Cuanu: The relics of Patrick were placed sixty years after his death in a shrine by Colum Cille. Three splendid halidoms were found in the burial-place: his goblet, the Angel's Gospel, and the Bell of the Testament. This is how the angel distributed the halidoms: the goblet to Dún, the Bell of the Testament to Ard Macha, and the Angel's Gospel to Colum Cille himself. The reason it is called the Angel's Gospel is that Colum Cille received it from the hand of the angel.

The placing of this event in the year 553 indicate a tradition that Patrick's death was 493, or at least in the early years of that decade, and the Annals of Ulster report under 493:
Patrick, arch-apostle, or archbishop and apostle of the Irish, rested on the 16th of the Kalends of April in the 120th year of his age, in the 60th year after he had come to Ireland to baptise the Irish.


This tradition is also seen in an annalistic reference to the death of a saint termed Patrick's disciple, Mochta
Mochta
Saint Mochta or Mochtae , in Latin sources Maucteus or Mauchteus, was a disciple of St. Patrick.He was, like Patrick, a native of Britain. His name is British, and Adomnán's Life of Columba describes him as "a certain British stranger, a holy man and a disciple of the holy bishop Patrick"...

, who is said to have died in 535.

St. Patrick is said to be buried at Down Cathedral
Down Cathedral
Down Cathedral, the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, is a Church of Ireland cathedral located in the town of Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. It stands on Cathedral Hill overlooking the town.-History:...

 in Downpatrick
Downpatrick
Downpatrick is a medium-sized town about 33 km south of Belfast in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is the county town of Down with a rich history and strong connection to Saint Patrick. It had a population of 10,316 at the 2001 Census...

, County Down
County Down
-Cities:*Belfast *Newry -Large towns:*Dundonald*Newtownards*Bangor-Medium towns:...

, alongside St. Brigid and St. Columba, although this has never been proven. The Battle for the Body of St. Patrick
Battle for the Body of St. Patrick
The Battle for the Body of St. Patrick occurred shortly after the death of St. Patrick, who died on 17 March 493.-Account in the Annals of the Four Masters:...

 demonstrates the importance of both him as a spiritual leader, and of his body as an object of veneration, in early Christian Ireland. Saint Patrick Visitor Centre
Saint Patrick Visitor Centre
The Saint Patrick Visitor Centre is a modern exhibition complex located in Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland. It is a permanent interpretative exhibition centre featuring interactive displays on the life and story of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland...

 is a modern exhibition complex located in Downpatrick and is a permanent interpretative exhibition centre featuring interactive displays on the life and story of Saint Patrick. It provides the only permanent exhibition centre in the world devoted to Saint Patrick.

Seventh-century writings

An early document which is silent concerning Patrick is the letter of Columbanus
Columbanus
Columbanus was an Irish missionary notable for founding a number of monasteries on the European continent from around 590 in the Frankish and Lombard kingdoms, most notably Luxeuil and Bobbio , and stands as an exemplar of Irish missionary activity in early medieval Europe.He spread among the...

 to Pope Boniface IV
Pope Boniface IV
Pope Saint Boniface IV was pope from 608 to his death.Son of Johannes, a physician, a Marsian from the province and town of Valeria; he succeeded Boniface III after a vacancy of over nine months. He was consecrated on either 25 August or September 15 in 608...

 of about 613. Columbanus writes that Ireland's Christianity "was first handed to us by you, the successors of the holy apostles", apparently referring to Palladius
Palladius
Palladius was the first Bishop of the Christians of Ireland, preceding Saint Patrick. The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion consider Palladius a saint.-Armorica:...

 only, and ignoring Patrick. Writing on the Easter controversy
Easter controversy
The Easter controversy is a series of controversies about the proper date to celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter. To date, there are four distinct historical phases of the dispute and the dispute has yet to be resolved...

 in 632 or 633, Cummian—it is uncertain whether this is the Cummian
Cummian
Cumméne Fota or Cummian was an Irish bishop.-Biography:Cummian was an Irish Bishop and fer léignid of Cluain Ferta Brénainn , was an important theological writer in the early to mid 7th century. He is famous for a Paschal letter which displays his high level of learning...

 associated with Clonfert
Clonfert
Clonfert is a small village in east County Galway, Ireland. It is half way between Ballinasloe and Portumna.Clonfert Cathedral is situated in the village, which is the see of the Diocese of Clonfert.-See also:* List of towns and villages in Ireland...

 or Cumméne of Iona
Cumméne of Iona
Cumméne Find was the seventh abbot of Iona . It was during Cumméne's abbacy that the Northumbrians decided against the Gaelic dating of Easter at the Synod of Whitby, resulting in the loss of control of the Ionan offshoot Gaelic church at Lindisfarne...

—does refer to Patrick, calling him our papa, that is pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 or primate
Primate (religion)
Primate is a title or rank bestowed on some bishops in certain Christian churches. Depending on the particular tradition, it can denote either jurisdictional authority or ceremonial precedence ....

.

Two works by late seventh-century hagiographers of Patrick have survived. These are the writings of Tírechán
Tírechán
Tírechán was a 7th century Irish bishop and biographer of Saint Patrick. Tírechán wrote his untitled memoir sometime after the death of his mentor, Ultan of Ardbraccan, in 657. The work survives in the manuscript The Book of Armagh.Tírechán's account, which J. B...

, and Vita sancti Patricii of Muirchu moccu Machtheni
Muirchu moccu Machtheni
Muirchu moccu Machtheni , usually known simply as Muirchu, was a seventh-century Irish historian and Leinster monk.-Works:...

. Both writers relied upon an earlier work, now lost, the Book of Ultán. This Ultán, probably the same person as Ultan of Ardbraccan
Ultan of Ardbraccan
For the brother of Saint Fursey, see Ultan.St. Ultan of Ardbraccan was an Irish saint and Abbot-Bishop of Ardbraccan during the 7th Century CE....

, was Tírechán's foster-father. His obituary is given in the Annals of Ulster
Annals of Ulster
The Annals of Ulster are annals of medieval Ireland. The entries span the years between AD 431 to AD 1540. The entries up to AD 1489 were compiled in the late 15th century by the scribe Ruaidhrí Ó Luinín, under his patron Cathal Óg Mac Maghnusa on the island of Belle Isle on Lough Erne in the...

under the year 657. These works thus date from a century and a half after Patrick's death.

Tírechán writes
"I found four names for Patrick written in the book of Ultán, bishop of the tribe of Conchobar
Conchobar
is an Irish male name meaning "lover of hounds". It is the source of the Irish names Conor, Connor, Connors, Conner, O'Connor, etc. It is a name borne by several figures from Irish history and legend, including:* Conchobar mac Nessa, legendary king of Ulster...

: holy Magonus (that is, "famous"); Succetus (that is, the god of war); Patricius (that is, father of the citizens); Cothirtiacus (because he served four houses of druids)."


Muirchu records much the same information, adding that "[h]is mother was named Concessa." The name Cothirtiacus, however, is simply the Latinized form of Old Irish Cothraige, which is the Q-Celtic form of Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 Patricius.

The Patrick portrayed by Tírechán and Muirchu is a martial figure, who contests with druid
Druid
A druid was a member of the priestly class in Britain, Ireland, and Gaul, and possibly other parts of Celtic western Europe, during the Iron Age....

s, overthrows pagan idols, and curses kings and kingdoms. On occasion, their accounts contradict Patrick's own writings: Tírechán states that Patrick accepted gifts from female converts although Patrick himself flatly denies this. However, the emphasis Tírechán and Muirchu placed on female converts, and in particular royal and noble women who became nuns, is thought to be a genuine insight into Patrick's work of conversion. Patrick also worked with the unfree and the poor, encouraging them to vows of monastic chastity. Tírechán's account suggests that many early Patrician churches were combined with nunneries founded by Patrick's noble female converts.

The martial Patrick found in Tírechán and Muirchu, and in later accounts, echoes similar figures found during the conversion of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 to Christianity. It may be doubted whether such accounts are an accurate representation of Patrick's time, although such violent events may well have occurred as Christians gained in strength and numbers.

Much of the detail supplied by Tírechán and Muirchu, in particular the churches established by Patrick, and the monasteries founded by his converts, may relate to the situation in the 7th century, when the churches which claimed ties to Patrick, and in particular Armagh
Armagh
Armagh is a large settlement in Northern Ireland, and the county town of County Armagh. It is a site of historical importance for both Celtic paganism and Christianity and is the seat, for both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland, of the Archbishop of Armagh...

, were expanding their influence throughout Ireland in competition with the church of Kildare
Kildare
-External links:*******...

. In the same period, Wilfred, Archbishop of York
Archbishop of York
The Archbishop of York is a high-ranking cleric in the Church of England, second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of York and metropolitan of the Province of York, which covers the northern portion of England as well as the Isle of Man...

, claimed to speak, as metropolitan archbishop, "for all the northern part of Britain and of Ireland" at a council held in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 in the time of Pope Agatho
Pope Agatho
-Background and early life:Little is known of Agatho before his papacy. A letter written by St. Gregory the Great to the abbot of St. Hermes in Palermo mentions an Agatho, a Greek born in Sicily to wealthy parents. He wished to give away his inheritance and join a monastery, and in this letter...

, thus claiming jurisdiction over the Irish church.

Other presumed early materials include the Irish annals
Irish annals
A number of Irish annals were compiled up to and shortly after the end of Gaelic Ireland in the 17th century.Annals were originally a means by which monks determined the yearly chronology of feast days...

, which contain records from the Chronicle of Ireland
Chronicle of Ireland
The Chronicle of Ireland is the modern name for a hypothesized collection of ecclesiastical annals recording events in Ireland from 432 to 911 AD....

. These sources have conflated Palladius
Palladius
Palladius was the first Bishop of the Christians of Ireland, preceding Saint Patrick. The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion consider Palladius a saint.-Armorica:...

 and Patrick. Another early document is the so-called First Synod of Saint Patrick. This is a seventh-century document, once, but no longer, taken as to contain a 5th century original text. It apparently collects the results of several early synods, and represents an era when pagans were still a major force in Ireland. The introduction attributes it to Patrick, Auxilius, and Iserninus, a claim which "cannot be taken at face value."

St. Patrick banishes all snakes from Ireland

Pious legend credits St. Patrick with banishing snake
Snake
Snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales...

s from the island, chasing them into the sea after they assailed him during a 40-day fast he was undertaking on top of a hill,. This hagiographic theme draws on the mythography
Mythography
A mythographer, or a mythologist is a compiler of myths. The word derives from the Greek "μυθογραφία" , "writing of fables", from "μῦθος" , "speech, word, fact, story, narrative" + "γράφω" , "to write, to inscribe". Mythography is then the rendering of myths in the arts...

 of the staff of Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

, messenger of Yahweh
Yahweh
Yahweh is the name of God in the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jews and Christians.The word Yahweh is a modern scholarly convention for the Hebrew , transcribed into Roman letters as YHWH and known as the Tetragrammaton, for which the original pronunciation is unknown...

 to gentile Egyptians. In , Moses and Aaron use their staffs in their struggle with Pharaoh's sorcerers, the staffs of each side morphing into snakes. Aaron's snake-staff prevails.

However, all evidence suggests that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes, as on insular "Ireland, New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, and Antarctica...So far, no serpent has successfully migrated across the open ocean to a new terrestrial home" such as from Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 on the mainland of the neighboring island of Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

, where a few native species have lived, "the venomous adder, the grass snake, and the smooth snake," as National Geographic notes, and although sea snake species separately exist. "At no time has there ever been any suggestion of snakes in Ireland, so [there was] nothing for St. Patrick to banish," says naturalist Nigel Monaghan, keeper of natural history at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, who has searched extensively through Irish fossil collections and records. The List of reptiles of Ireland has only one land reptile species native to Ireland, the viviparous or common lizard
Viviparous lizard
The viviparous lizard or common lizard is a Eurasian lizard. It lives farther north than any other reptile species, and most populations are viviparous , rather than laying eggs as most other lizards do.-Identification:The length of the body is less than...

.

The only biological candidate species for appearing like a native snake in Ireland is the slow worm, actually a legless lizard, a non-native species more recently found in The Burren
The Burren
The Burren is a karst-landscape region or alvar in northwest County Clare, in Ireland. It is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe. The region measures approximately 250 square kilometres and is enclosed roughly within the circle made by the villages Ballyvaughan, Kinvara, Tubber, Corofin,...

 region of County Clare
County Clare
-History:There was a Neolithic civilisation in the Clare area — the name of the peoples is unknown, but the Prehistoric peoples left evidence behind in the form of ancient dolmen; single-chamber megalithic tombs, usually consisting of three or more upright stones...

 as recorded since the early 1970s, as noted by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of Ireland, which suspects it was deliberately introduced in the 1960s. So far, the slow worm's territory in the wild has not spread beyond the Burren's limestone region which is rich in wildlife.

One suggestion is that snakes referred to the serpent
Serpent (symbolism)
Serpent in Latin means: Rory Collins :&, in turn, from the Biblical Hebrew word of: "saraf" with root letters of: which refers to something burning-as, the pain of poisonous snake's bite was likened to internal burning.This word is commonly used in a specifically mythic or religious context,...

 symbolism of the Druid
Druid
A druid was a member of the priestly class in Britain, Ireland, and Gaul, and possibly other parts of Celtic western Europe, during the Iron Age....

s during that time and place, as exampled on coins minted in Gaul (see Carnutes
Carnutes
The Carnutes, a powerful Celtic people in the heart of independent Gaul, dwelled in a particularly extensive territory between the Sequana and the Liger rivers. Their lands later corresponded to the dioceses of Chartres, Orléans and Blois, that is, the greater part of the modern departments of...

). Chris Weigant connects "Big tattoos of snakes" on Druids' arms as "Irish schoolchildren are taught" with the way in which, in the legend of St. Patrick banishishing snakes, the "story goes to the core of Patrick's sainthood and his core mission in Ireland."

St. Patrick uses shamrock in an illustrative parable

Legend (dating to 1726, according to the OED) also credits St. Patrick with teaching the Irish about the doctrine of the Holy Trinity by showing people the shamrock
Shamrock
The shamrock is a three-leafed old white clover. It is known as a symbol of Ireland. The name shamrock is derived from Irish , which is the diminutive version of the Irish word for clover ....

, a three-leafed plant, using it to illustrate the Christian teaching of 'three divine persons in the one God.'
For this reason, shamrocks have definitely become a central symbol for St Patrick’s Day.

Nevertheless, the shamrock was also seen as sacred in the pre-Christian days in Ireland. Due to its green color and overall shape, many viewed it as representing rebirth and eternal life. Three was a sacred number in the pagan religion and there were a number of "Triple Goddesses
Triple deity
A triple deity is a deity associated with the number three. Such deities are common throughout world mythology; the number three has a long history of mythical associations. C. G...

" in ancient Ireland, including Brigid
Brigid
In Irish mythology, Brigit or Brighid was the daughter of the Dagda and one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. She was the wife of Bres of the Fomorians, with whom she had a son, Ruadán....

, Ériu
Ériu
In Irish mythology, Ériu , daughter of Ernmas of the Tuatha Dé Danann, was the eponymous matron goddess of Ireland. Her husband was Mac Gréine ....

, and the Morrigan.

St. Patrick's dead ash wood walking stick grows into a living tree

Some Irish legends involve the Oilliphéist
Oilliphéist
In Irish mythology, the Oilliphéist was a dragon-like monster.In one story, the Oilliphéist cuts the route of the River Shannon when it hears that St Patrick has come to drive out it and its kind.The Scottish Gaelic variant is called Uilepheist....

, the Caoránach
Caoránach
In Irish folklore, Caoránach was a monster which was banished by St Patrick to Lough Derg. Perceived as female, Caoránach was said to be the mother of demons and devils....

, and the Copóg Phádraig. During his evangelising journey back to Ireland from his parent's home at Birdoswald, he is understood to have carried with him an ash wood walking stick or staff. He thrust this stick into the ground wherever he was evangelising and at the place now known as Aspatria (ash of Patrick) the message of the dogma took so long to get through to the people there that the stick had taken root by the time he was ready to move on.

St. Patrick speaks with ancient Irish ancestors who were born long before his time

The 12th century work Acallam na Senórach
Acallam na Senórach
Acallam na Senórach is an important prosimetric Middle Irish narrative dating to the last quarter of the 12th century...

tells of Patrick being met by two ancient warriors, Caílte mac Rónáin
Caílte mac Rónáin
Caílte mac Rónáin was a nephew of Fionn mac Cumhail and a member of the fianna in the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology. He could run at remarkable speed and communicate with animals, and was a great storyteller...

 and Oisín
Oisín
Oisín , also spelt in English Ossian or Osheen, was regarded in legend as the greatest poet of Ireland, and is a warrior of the fianna in the Ossianic or Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology...

, during his evangelical travels. The two were once members of Fionn mac Cumhaill
Fionn mac Cumhaill
Fionn mac Cumhaill , known in English as Finn McCool, was a mythical hunter-warrior of Irish mythology, occurring also in the mythologies of Scotland and the Isle of Man...

's warrior band the Fianna
Fianna
Fianna were small, semi-independent warrior bands in Irish mythology and Scottish mythology, most notably in the stories of the Fenian Cycle, where they are led by Fionn mac Cumhaill....

, and somehow survived to Patrick's time.

Saint Patrick's Bell

The National Museum of Ireland
National Museum of Ireland
The National Museum of Ireland is the national museum in Ireland. It has three branches in Dublin and one in County Mayo, with a strong emphasis on Irish art, culture and natural history.-Archaeology:...

 in Dublin possesses a bell first mentioned, according to the Annals of Ulster
Annals of Ulster
The Annals of Ulster are annals of medieval Ireland. The entries span the years between AD 431 to AD 1540. The entries up to AD 1489 were compiled in the late 15th century by the scribe Ruaidhrí Ó Luinín, under his patron Cathal Óg Mac Maghnusa on the island of Belle Isle on Lough Erne in the...

, in the Book of Cuanu in the year 552. The bell was part of a collection of "relics of Patrick" removed from his tomb sixty years after his death by Colum Cille to be used as relics. The bell is described as "The Bell of the Testament", one of three relics of "precious minna" (extremely valuable items), of which the other two are described as Patrick's goblet and "The Angels Gospel". Cille is described to have been under the direction of an "Angel" for whom he sent the goblet to Down
County Down
-Cities:*Belfast *Newry -Large towns:*Dundonald*Newtownards*Bangor-Medium towns:...

, the bell to Armagh
County Armagh
-History:Ancient Armagh was the territory of the Ulaid before the fourth century AD. It was ruled by the Red Branch, whose capital was Emain Macha near Armagh. The site, and subsequently the city, were named after the goddess Macha...

, and kept possession of the Angels Gospel for himself. The name Angels Gospel is given to the book because it was supposed that Cille received it from the angel's hand. A stir was caused in 1044 when two kings, in some dispute over the bell, went on spates of prisoner taking and cattle theft. The annals make one more apparent reference to the bell when chronicling a death, of 1356, "Solomon Ua Mellain, The Keeper of The Bell of the Testament, protector, rested in Christ."

The bell was encased in a "bell shrine", a distinctive Irish type of reliquary
Reliquary
A reliquary is a container for relics. These may be the physical remains of saints, such as bones, pieces of clothing, or some object associated with saints or other religious figures...

 made for it, as an inscription records, by King Domnall Ua Lochlainn sometime between 1091 and 1105. The shrine is an important example of the final, Viking-influenced, style of Irish Celtic art
Celtic art
Celtic art is the art associated with the peoples known as Celts; those who spoke the Celtic languages in Europe from pre-history through to the modern period, as well as the art of ancient peoples whose language is uncertain, but have cultural and stylistic similarities with speakers of Celtic...

, with intricate Urnes style
Urnes style
The Urnes style was the last phase of Scandinavian animal art during the second half of the 11th century and in the early 12th century. The preceding phases of Scandinavia's Viking Age animal ornamentation are usually categorized as Oseberg style, Borre style, Jelling style, Mammen style and...

 decoration in gold and silver. The Gaelic inscription on the shrine also records the name of the maker "U INMAINEN" (which translates to "Noonan"), "who with his sons enriched/decorated it"; metalwork was often inscribed for remembrance.

The bell itself is simple in design, hammered into shape with a small handle fixed to the top with rivets. Originally forged from iron, it has since been coated in bronze. The shrine is inscribed with three names, including King Domnall Ua Lochlainn's. The rear of the shrine, not intended to be seen, is decorated with crosses while the handle is decorated with, among other work, Celtic designs of birds. The bell is accredited with working a miracle in 1044 and having been coated in bronze to shield it from human eyes, for which it would be too holy. It measures 12.5 × 10 cm at the base, 12.8 × 4 cm at the shoulder, 16.5 cm from base to shoulder, 3.3 cm from shoulder to top of handle and weighs 1.7 kg.

Sainthood and modern remembrance

March 17, popularly known as St. Patrick's Day
Saint Patrick's Day
Saint Patrick's Day is a religious holiday celebrated internationally on 17 March. It commemorates Saint Patrick , the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of :Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion , the Eastern...

, is believed to be his death date and is the date celebrated as his feast day. The day became a feast day in the universal church due to the influence of the Waterford
Waterford
Waterford is a city in the South-East Region of Ireland. It is the oldest city in the country and fifth largest by population. Waterford City Council is the local government authority for the city and its immediate hinterland...

-born Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

 scholar Luke Wadding
Luke Wadding
Luke Wadding was an Irish Franciscan friar and historian.-Life:Wadding was born in 16 October 1588 at Waterford to Walter Wadding of Waterford, a wealthy merchant, and his wife, Anastasia Lombard . Educated at the school of Mrs...

, as a member of the commission for the reform of the Breviary
Breviary
A breviary is a liturgical book of the Latin liturgical rites of the Catholic Church containing the public or canonical prayers, hymns, the Psalms, readings, and notations for everyday use, especially by bishops, priests, and deacons in the Divine Office...

 in the early part of the 17th century.

For most of Christianity's first thousand years, canonisations were done on the diocesan or regional level. Relatively soon after the death of people considered to be very holy people, the local Church affirmed that they could be liturgically celebrated as saints. As a result, St. Patrick has never been formally canonised by a Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

; nevertheless, various Christian churches declare that he is a Saint in Heaven (he is in the List of Saints). He is still widely venerated in Ireland and elsewhere today.

St. Patrick is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA)
Calendar of saints (Episcopal Church in the United States of America)
The veneration of saints in the Episcopal Church is a continuation of an ancient tradition from the early Church which honors important people of the Christian faith. The usage of the term "saint" is similar to Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions. Those in the Anglo-Catholic tradition may...

 on March 17.
St. Patrick is also venerated
Veneration
Veneration , or veneration of saints, is a special act of honoring a saint: an angel, or a dead person who has been identified by a church committee as singular in the traditions of the religion. It is practiced by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic, and Eastern Catholic Churches...

 in the Orthodox Church, especially among English-speaking Orthodox Christians living in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland and in North America. There are Orthodox icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

s dedicated
Dedication
Dedication is the act of consecrating an altar, temple, church or other sacred building. It also refers to the inscription of books or other artifacts when these are specifically addressed or presented to a particular person. This practice, which once was used to gain the patronage and support of...

 to him.

Places associated with Saint Patrick

  • Slemish
    Slemish
    Slemish, historically called Slieve Mish , is a volcanic plug in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It lies a few miles east of Ballymena, in the townland of Carnstroan.Slemish is the remains of the plug of an extinct volcano...

    , County Antrim
    County Antrim
    County Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 2,844 km², with a population of approximately 616,000...

     and Killala Bay
    Killala Bay
    Killala Bay is a bay on the west coast of Ireland between County Mayo and County Sligo. It is situated between Lenadoon Point and Downpatrick Head and is the estuary for the River Moy....

    , County Mayo
    County Mayo
    County Mayo is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the village of Mayo, which is now generally known as Mayo Abbey. Mayo County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 130,552...

When captured by raiders, there are two theories as to where Patrick was enslaved. One theory is that he herded sheep in the countryside around Slemish. Another theory is that Patrick herded sheep near Killala Bay, at a place called Fochill.

  • Saul
    Saul, County Down
    Saul is the name of a townland and civil parish in County Down, Northern Ireland.The townland lies to the east of Downpatrick and has strong links with Saint Patrick. It is claimed that when Saint Patrick came to Ireland in 432, strong currents swept his boat through the Strangford Lough tidal...

    , County Down
    County Down
    -Cities:*Belfast *Newry -Large towns:*Dundonald*Newtownards*Bangor-Medium towns:...

     
It is claimed that Patrick founded his first church in a barn at Saul, which was donated to him by a local chieftain called Dichu
Saint Dichu
Saint Díchu mac Trichim was the first convert of Saint Patrick in Ireland. His feast is noted in the Martyrology of Donegal as "Diochu of Sabhall", under date of 29 April.-See also:*...

. It is also claimed that Patrick died at Saul or was brought there between his death and burial. Nearby, on the crest of Slieve Patrick, is a huge statue of Saint Patrick with bronze panels showing scenes from his life.

  • Hill of Slane, County Meath
    County Meath
    County Meath is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the ancient Kingdom of Mide . Meath County Council is the local authority for the county...

Muirchu moccu Machtheni
Muirchu moccu Machtheni
Muirchu moccu Machtheni , usually known simply as Muirchu, was a seventh-century Irish historian and Leinster monk.-Works:...

, in his highly mythologized 7th century Life of Patrick, says that Patrick lit a Paschal
Paschal Full Moon
Notionally, the paschal full moon refers to the ecclesiastical full moon of the northern spring used in the determination of the date of Easter. The name "paschal" is derived from "Pascha", a transliteration of the Greek word, which is itself a transliteration of the Hebrew pesach, both words...

 fire on this hilltop in 433 CE in defiance of High King
High King of Ireland
The High Kings of Ireland were sometimes historical and sometimes legendary figures who had, or who are claimed to have had, lordship over the whole of Ireland. Medieval and early modern Irish literature portrays an almost unbroken sequence of High Kings, ruling from Tara over a hierarchy of...

 Laoire
Lóegaire mac Néill
Lóegaire , also Lóeguire, is said to have been a son of Niall of the Nine Hostages. The Irish annals and king lists include him as a King of Tara or High King of Ireland. He appears as an adversary of Saint Patrick in several hagiographies...

. The story says that the fire could not be doused by anyone but Patrick, and it was here that he explained the holy trinity using the shamrock.

  • Croagh Patrick
    Croagh Patrick
    Croagh Patrick , nicknamed the Reek, is a tall mountain and an important site of pilgrimage in County Mayo, Republic of Ireland. It is from Westport, above the villages of Murrisk and Lecanvey. It is the third highest mountain in County Mayo after Mweelrea and Nephin. On "Reek Sunday", the last...

    , County Mayo
It is claimed that Patrick climbed this mountain and fasted on its summit for the forty days of Lent
Lent
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...

. Croagh Patrick draws thousands of pilgrims who make the trek to the top on the last Sunday in July.

  • Lough Derg, County Donegal
    County Donegal
    County Donegal is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Border Region and is also located in the province of Ulster. It is named after the town of Donegal. Donegal County Council is the local authority for the county...

     
It is claimed that Patrick killed a large serpent on this lake and that its blood turned the water red (hence the name). Each August, pilgrims spend three days fasting and praying there on Station Island.

  • Armagh
    Armagh
    Armagh is a large settlement in Northern Ireland, and the county town of County Armagh. It is a site of historical importance for both Celtic paganism and Christianity and is the seat, for both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland, of the Archbishop of Armagh...

    , County Armagh
    County Armagh
    -History:Ancient Armagh was the territory of the Ulaid before the fourth century AD. It was ruled by the Red Branch, whose capital was Emain Macha near Armagh. The site, and subsequently the city, were named after the goddess Macha...

It is claimed that Patrick founded a church here and proclaimed it to be the most holy church in Ireland. Armagh is today the primary seat of both the Catholic and Protestant Churches in Ireland and both cathedrals in the town are named after Patrick.

  • Downpatrick
    Downpatrick
    Downpatrick is a medium-sized town about 33 km south of Belfast in County Down, Northern Ireland. It is the county town of Down with a rich history and strong connection to Saint Patrick. It had a population of 10,316 at the 2001 Census...

    , County Down
It is claimed that Patrick was brought here after his death and buried in the grounds of Down Cathedral.


Other places named after Saint Patrick include:
  • Ardpatrick
    Ardpatrick
    Ardpatrick is a small village in County Limerick, Ireland. It lies at the foot of the north slopes of the Ballyhoura Mountains, on the edge of the Golden Vale. It had a population of 398 in 2006....

    , County Limerick
    County Limerick
    It is thought that humans had established themselves in the Lough Gur area of the county as early as 3000 BC, while megalithic remains found at Duntryleague date back further to 3500 BC...

     
  • Patrickswell
    Patrickswell
    Patrickswell, historically known as Toberpatrick , is a small town in County Limerick, Ireland.-Etymology:The name refers to St. Patrick and there is a small hand pump/well in the main street; Microsoft mappoint and some other programs call the village St. Patrick's Well or St....

     or Toberpatrick, County Limerick
  • St Patrick's Island
    St Patrick's Island
    St Patrick's Island is the most distant of three low-lying uninhabited islets off the headland of Skerries, County Dublin in Ireland. It is an island of low cliffs and lies about 1.5 km from the mainland, with vegetation consisting of grasses, brambles and other species such as hogweed. It is the...

    , County Dublin
    County Dublin
    County Dublin is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Dublin Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the city of Dublin which is the capital of Ireland. County Dublin was one of the first of the parts of Ireland to be shired by King John of England following the...

  • St Patrick's Isle
    St Patrick's Isle
    St Patrick's Isle is a small island off the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, largely occupied by Peel Castle and noted for its attractive and relatively well preserved historic castle ruins. These ruins include St Patrick's Church and an Irish-style round tower, St German's Cathedral, and the more...

    , off the Isle of Man
    Isle of Man
    The Isle of Man , otherwise known simply as Mann , is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is...

  • Llanbadrig
    Llanbadrig
    Llanbadrig is a parish in the cwmwd of Talybolion, on the island of Anglesey, north Wales. The parish includes the township of Clygyrog and the little port of Cemaes . The region has extensive quarries of limestone and marble....

     on the island of Anglesey
    Anglesey
    Anglesey , also known by its Welsh name Ynys Môn , is an island and, as Isle of Anglesey, a county off the north west coast of Wales...

     in Wales
  • Templepatrick
    Templepatrick
    Templepatrick is a village in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It is northwest of Belfast, and halfway between the towns of Ballyclare and Antrim. It had a population of 1,556 in the 2001 Census. It is also close to Belfast International Airport and the village has several hotels...

    , County Antrim

In literature

Robert Southey
Robert Southey
Robert Southey was an English poet of the Romantic school, one of the so-called "Lake Poets", and Poet Laureate for 30 years from 1813 to his death in 1843...

 wrote a ballad
Ballad
A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads were particularly characteristic of British and Irish popular poetry and song from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and North Africa. Many...

 called Saint Patrick's Purgatory, based on popular legends surrounding the saint's on yes name.
Stephen R. Lawhead
Stephen R. Lawhead
Stephen R. Lawhead, born , is a best-selling American writer known for his works of fantasy, science fiction, and more recently, historical fiction, particularly Celtic historical fiction...

 also wrote the fictional Patrick: Son of Ireland based on the life of the celebrated Saint.
Dutch/Scottish singer Chris Anderson
Chris Anderson
Chris Anderson may refer to:* Chris Anderson , founder of Future Publishing and curator of the TED Conference* Chris Anderson , author, journalist, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, popularized "The Long Tail"* Chris Anderson , football player, educator, former Vice-Chairman of Aberdeen F.C.*...

 wrote a poem called "Saint Patrick's Lament", based on the Saint's remembrance festival Saint Patrick's Day
Saint Patrick's Day
Saint Patrick's Day is a religious holiday celebrated internationally on 17 March. It commemorates Saint Patrick , the most commonly recognised of the patron saints of :Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion , the Eastern...

.

See also

  • Croagh Patrick
    Croagh Patrick
    Croagh Patrick , nicknamed the Reek, is a tall mountain and an important site of pilgrimage in County Mayo, Republic of Ireland. It is from Westport, above the villages of Murrisk and Lecanvey. It is the third highest mountain in County Mayo after Mweelrea and Nephin. On "Reek Sunday", the last...

  • St. Patrick's blue
    St. Patrick's Blue
    St. Patrick's blue is a name applied to several shades of blue considered as symbolic of Ireland. In British usage, it refers to various sky blue shades associated with the Order of St. Patrick. In modern usage in the Republic of Ireland, it may be a darker shade. While green is now the usual...

  • St. Patrick's Flag
  • St. Patrick's Purgatory
    St. Patrick's Purgatory
    St Patrick's Purgatory is an ancient pilgrimage site on Station Island in Lough Derg, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland. According to legend, the site dates from the fifth century, when Christ showed Saint Patrick a cave, sometimes referred to as a pit, on Station Island that was an entrance to...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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