Saint Patrick Wasn’t Irish (and 5 other things you might not know)


I love Saint Patrick’s Day – and not just because it’s an excuse to eat sweets in the middle of Lent.  I love Saint Patrick’s Day because he was a great saint who has a great story.  Most people, whether or not they are Irish or Catholic observe his feast day is some  small way – wearing green, attending a parade, sporting a funny t-shirt.



This year when you celebrate you might want to  keep in mind a few fun facts that you probably didn’t know about The Patron Saint of Ireland.

Patrick was not Irish.  Patrick was born in Scotland to Roman parents and grew up in Britain where his father was in charge of Roman colonies.  When a band of Irish raiders invaded their village, Patrick was captured and taken to Ireland to be a slave.

Patrick was a shepherd.  This might not come as a surprise to a lot of people because he is often portrayed with a staff.  As a slave he was forced to tend sheep. During that time, Patrick grew very close to God, praying continually.  Finally, God appeared to him in dream and told him to escape. Patrick managed to get away and board a ship sailing to France (The story is that the hounds on board would not stop barking until Patrick was allowed on the ship).

Patrick returned to Ireland on his own.  Actually, he returned at God’s request, again in a dream in which Patrick heard the voice of the Irish saying, “Come and walk among us again.” So he did – after studying to be a missionary and being ordained a bishop.

Patrick lived in the days of druids and pagans.  He is believed to have converted a powerful chieftain named Dichu, along with thousand of others.

Patrick used a three leaf clover to help people understand the Holy Trinity.  Many people mistakenly associate the four leaf clover with Saint Patrick, Ireland and good luck, but Patrick actually used a three leaf clover to demonstrate that there is one God who exists in Three Persons.

Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland.  Okay, probably not.  The legend is that Patrick got rid of Ireland’s snakes by beating on a drum and driving them into the sea.  It’s more likely that the snakes are symbolic of sin and paganism.

This year my family will celebrate this great Saint’s feast day with shepherd’s pie and Irish cream cake. (I hope to be blogging about both on Tried it Tuesday.)  And of course by reciting this beautiful prayer attributed to Saint Patrick.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

To share the story of Saint Patrick with your kids check out this book.


Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!


3 thoughts on “Saint Patrick Wasn’t Irish (and 5 other things you might not know)

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