The Ancient Missionary

March 29, 2021

Parades, foods, drinking, dancing, and a whole lot of green. To most, this is what St. Patrick’s Day looks like as a holiday; however, people would be surprised to find out that this holiday originally takes on a much more religious purpose.

St. Patrick’s Day, originally, is the anniversary of the death of a fifth-century missionary named Saint Patrick, also known as the “Apostle of Ireland.” Saint Patrick is credited with bringing the Christian religion to Ireland, as well as a few of his works such as “Confessio,” which tells of a dream where Patrick was delivered a message from a victoricus which contained the voices of all the Irish people, and how they wanted Patrick to walk among them. Patrick was deeply motivated and he felt like he needed to spread this message he was delivered.  His works became very well known which gained Patrick his popularity. 

Despite his growing popularity at the time, Patrick actually had a hard upbringing. When Patrick was 16, he was kidnapped by raiders and sent to be a slave in Ireland. He spent six years working as a herdsman until he decided to make his escape to Britain when he had strong feelings for his new faith. His escape was met with harsh survival in which he almost died from starvation and had a second brief capture, until he was reunited with his family, which began his religious chapter. 

A lot is actually unknown about Saint Patrick and his religious career apart from his works. His missionary career was said to have been during the second half of the fifth century during the 400s. His death is generally believed to be the cause of old age at 76 in Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland. Patrick spent his entire life in poverty while travelling and working. There were seemingly no days where Patrick had any sort of work to do whether it was on farms or out in the country spreading christianity. 

Patrick’s official death date was determined to be March 17, 461 A.D. and is the day that St. Patricks Day is celebrated.  This holiday is now a celebration of Irish culture through parades with food, music, drinking, and dancing. The St. Patrick’s Day traditions actually started here in America after having an influx of Irish immigrants. The very first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in 1601 in St. Augustine, Florida, which was a Spanish colony at the time. In places such as Chicago you’ll see the river turn green and people eating the traditional Irish foods such as corned beef and cabbage. People all over the world participate in wearing green with the iconic four leaf clover/shamrock on their clothing and tell weird stories about the leprechaun which is an old Irish fairy tale. It is a holiday of celebration and unity. 


Other Facts:

  • The color green was not originally associated with St. Patrick, it was actually blue. 
  • Saint Patrick was not Irish, he was born in Roman-Britain
  • The reason why the shamrock is such an iconic symbol is because it is believed that Saint Patrick used the plant to help teach about the Holy Trinity.



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