St Patrick's Day History

Celebrating Ireland's Patron Saint

The Saint Patrick Statue, IrelandSaint Patrick Statue

St Patrick's Day history begins with a missionary priest named Patrick (385-461 AD), who was chiefly responsible for converting the Irish to Christianity in the first half of the fifth century and became known as the Apostle to the Irish.

Patrick led a colorful, adventurous, and pious life. Born in Britain to wealthy parents, Patrick was kidnapped by pirates at age 16 and sold as a slave in Ireland, where he served as a shepherd of an Irish chieftain in Ulster.

It was during his Irish captivity that he grew close to God and dedicated himself to prayer.

About six years later, Patrick managed to escape and return to Britain where he increasingly felt God's call to missionize Ireland.

To prepare for his daunting missionary task, Patrick traveled to the monastery of Lerins off the French coast to devote himself to prayer and theological study. Patrick later studied under the bishop, Saint Geremanus, in Auxerre, France, before he was sent to Ireland by Pope Celestine I, around 431 AD.

Christianity had never been preached in northern and western Ireland before Patrick arrived, but he won the respect and trust of influential tribal leaders and is said to have established over 300 churches and baptized more than 120,000 people during his ministry.

St Patrick dedicated his remaining life preaching and ministering to his beloved people of Ireland.


Croagh Patrick Mountain

Croagh Patick Mountain, County Mayo, IrelandCroagh Patrick Mountain and Pilgrim's Pathway
(Source: ©123rf/John Quinn)

The 2,507 foot tall Croagh Patrick mountain in county Mayo, Ireland is closely associated with Saint Patrick and St Patrick's Day history. He reputedly fasted on its summit for 40 days in the fifth century and now modern-day pilgrims from around the world climb the steep slope day and night, sometimes barefoot, to worship in a small chapel built on the holy site.

St Patrick's Day Celebrations

Green Irish Shamrock

Saint Patrick's Day became a Roman Catholic feast day in the early 17th century through the influence of Luke Wadding, a Waterford-born Franciscan scholar. Then, "blue" was the color long-associated with Saint Patrick. However, in modern times green became prominent through the symbol of the shamrock and "the wearing of the green," a sign of Irish nationalism or loyalty to the Church.

Irish tradition states that St Patrick used the single-stemmed, three-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to new converts: one God as revealed in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

An Old Irish Saying

"May the roof above us never fall in, and may we friends gathered below never fall out."



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Irish dessert recipes from Grandma's collection can help you to celebrate St Patrick's Day history in a colorful traditional style whether you're Irish or not.

St Patrick's Day Dessert Recipes





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