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Saint Patrick

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Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick

The Legend of Saint Patrick

He was one of the earliest writers to advocate the abolition of slavery.

Mythology credits him with banishing snakes from the island of Ireland, though others suggest that for climatic reasons Ireland never actually had snakes. One suggestion is that "snakes" referred to the serpent symbolism of the Pagan priests of that time and place, the Druids, possibly shown by their tattoos or that it could have referred to Pelagianism, symbolized as an Old Testamental "serpent".

Legend also credits Patrick with teaching the Irish about the concept of the Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a three-leaved clover, using it to highlight the Christian dogma of 'three divine persons in the one god', as opposed to the Arian heresy that was popular in Patrick's time.

It is unknown on what date he was born and died but it is believed that March 17 was his death date and it is the date popularly associated with him as his Feast Day, known as St. Patrick's Day.



The History of Saint Patrick

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity's most widely known figures. But for all his celebrity, his life remains somewhat of a mystery. Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling.

Patrick was not the first Christian missionary to Ireland, as men such as Secundus and Pallidius were active in the south of the island long before him. However, tradition accords him the most impact, and his missions do seem to have being concentrated in the provinces of Ulster and Connaught which had never received Christians before.

It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. At the age of sixteen, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.

After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. According to his writing, a voice which he believed to be God's spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland. To do so, Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, where it is believed he was held, to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation, an angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than fifteen years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission, to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish.

Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish.

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