461: Who was St. Patrick – The Patron Saint of Ireland?

461: Who was St. Patrick – The Patron Saint of Ireland?
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Today is the day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. He, according to Catholic tradition, died on this day around the year 461 and was borne to Heaven. From among the historical sources, only two letters written by him are preserved, and are the only reliable sources about his life. In one of these letters, he gives a short account of his life and destiny. He was born in Roman Britain as the son of a deacon and grandson of a priest (Catholic priests were still allowed to marry at that time). At the age of 16, he was captured and taken as a slave to Ireland. That country at that time was not yet Christianized. After six years, he managed to escape and return home to England. One day, he felt a calling to return to Ireland as a missionary and to devote himself to the conversion of the Irish to Christianity.

Many legends were created about the person of St. Patrick. One of the most famous ones is that he banished all snakes from Ireland (even today, there are no snakes on the island). Clover is also associated with him, which he allegedly used to illustrate the Irish the Holy Trinity. Today, therefore, the shamrock (as well as its green color) is the symbol of Ireland. It is correct to portray it with three leaves (as a symbol of the Holy Trinity) and not four. St. Patrick’s Day, a national holiday in Ireland, is celebrated around the globe and is today probably the world’s most famous feast in honor of a Catholic saint (along with the feasts of St. Nicholas and St. Valentine).

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