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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Lapierre

The Remarkable History of St. Patrick: From Slave to Patron Saint

saint patrick walking on Irish cliffs by the sea

The history of St. Patrick is like something out of a movie.

At age 16, a boy named Maewyn Succat living in a British village was kidnapped by Irish pirates, hijacked across the Irish Sea and sold to a Celtic Druid, who forced the boy to shepherd his flock of sheep all alone on a cold, lonely mountain in bleak Northern Island. Like being a teenager isn’t angsty enough, the poor kid.

For six dreary years, Maewyn prayed incessantly. Finally, in a dream he got a message from God to get to the coast because his ship awaited to bring him home. Despite doubts, he took the dream seriously and bravely escaped, eluded capture as a fugitive on foot over 200 miles, found a ship, returned home, joined a monastery, changed his name to Patricus, and became a bishop. In another dream, an angel told him to return to Ireland to teach them about God. So he returned to Ireland, converted pagans to Christianity, kept getting arrested by the Celts, kept escaping, performed miracles, supposedly raised the dead, and died on March 17th, 461 A.D. He did not drive snakes out of Ireland because they had disappeared from the island with the Ice Age. Perhaps “snakes” was a metaphor for pagans, as he baptized 120,000 people and founded 300 churches there, effectively driving paganism out of Ireland. So that’s the story of St. Patrick. So if you’re out partying on his "angelversary," raise your glass to him. Sláinte!

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