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Saint Patrick


Saint Patrick


Patrick of Ireland 

Born in Roman Britain, c. AD 385-390; died in Ireland c. 461.

'I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with his Baptism,
The virtue of His Crucifixion with his burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
The virtue of His coming on the Judgment Day.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of the seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,
In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,

The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The compactness of rocks.I bind to myself today

God's power to guide me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to teach me,
God's eye to watch over me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to give me speech,
God's hand to guide me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to shelter me,
God's host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or many.
I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile, merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man and woman.

Christ, protect me today
Against poison,
Against burning,
Against drowning,
Against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.

Christ be with me,
Christ be before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ be with me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ at my right,
Christ at my left,
Christ be in the fort,
Christ be in the chariot,
Christ be in the ship,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity.
I believe the Trinity in the Unity,
The Creator of the Universe. Amen.'
--Saint Patrick's Breastplate or Faeth Fiadha (deer's cry).

Note that there are several different versions of this prayer, which is alleged to be the invocation that led Patrick and his party safely to the confrontation with the Druids at Tara. It's Irish name, the Deer's Cry, is based on the legend that Patrick and his eight companions were miraculously turned into deer to be able to pass unnoticed by the king's guards sent to intercept them.


'I was like a stone lying in the deep mire; and He that is mighty came, and in His mercy
lifted me up, and verily raised me aloft and placed me on the top of the wall.'

--Saint Patrick
The historical Patrick is much more attractive than the Patrick of legend. It is unclear exactly where Patricius Magonus Sucatus (Patrick) was born--somewhere in the west between the mouth of the Severn and the Clyde--but this most popular Irish saint was probably born in Scotland of British origin, perhaps in a village called Bannavem Taberniae. (Other possibilities are in Gaul or at Kilpatrick near Dumbarton, Scotland.) His father, Calpurnius, was a deacon and a civil official, a town councillor, and his grandfather was a priest.

About 405AD, when Patrick was in his teens (14-16), he was captured by Irish raiders and became a slave in Ireland. There in Ballymena (or Slemish) in Antrim (or Mayo), Patrick first learned to pray intensely while tending his master's sheep in contrast with his early years in Britain when he "knew not the true God" and did not heed clerical "admonitions for our salvation." After six years, he was told in a dream that he should be ready for a courageous effort that would take him back to his homeland.

He ran away from his owner and travelled 200 miles to the coast. His initial request for free passage on a ship was turned down, but he prayed, and the sailors called him back. The ship on which he escaped was taking dogs to Gaul (France). At some point he returned to his family in Britain, then seems to have studied at the monastery of Lérins on the Côte d'Azur from AD 412 to 415.

He received some kind of training for the priesthood in either Britain or Gaul, possibly in Auxerre, including study of the Latin Bible, but his learning was not of a high standard, and he was to regret this always. He spent the next 15 years at Auxerre were he became a disciple of Saint Germanus of Auxerre and was possibly ordained about 417AD.

The cultus of Patrick began in France, long before Sucat received the noble title of Patricius, which was immediately before his departure for Ireland about 431AD. The center of this cultus is a few miles west of Tours, on the Loire, around the town of St- Patrice, which is named after him. The strong, persistent legend is that Patrick not only spent the twenty years after his escape from slavery there, but that it was his home. The local people firmly believe that Patrick was the nephew of Saint Martin of Tours and that he became a monk in his uncle's great Marmoutier Abbey.

Patrick's cultus there reverts to the legend of Les Fleurs de St- Patrice which relates that Patrick was sent from the abbey to preach the Gospel in the area of Bréhémont-sur-Loire. He went fishing one day and had a tremendous catch. The local fishermen were upset and forced him to flee. He reached a shelter on the north bank where he slept under a blackthorn bush. When he awoke the bush was covered with flowers. Because this was Christmas day, the incident was considered a miracle, which recurred each Christmas until the bush was destroyed in World War I. The phenomenon was evaluated many times and verified by various observers, including official organizations. His is now the patron of the fishermen on the Loire and, according to a modern French scholar, the patron of almost every other occupation in the neighborhood. There is a grotto dedicated to him at Marmoutier, which contains a stone bed, alleged to have been his.

It is said that in visions he heard voices in the wood of Focault or that he dreamed of Ireland and determined to return to the land of his slavery as a missionary. In that dream or vision he heard a cry from many people together 'come back and walk once more among us,' and he read a writing in which this cry was named 'the voice of the Irish.' (When Pope John Paul II went to Ireland in 1979, among his first words were that he, too, had heard the 'voice of the Irish.')

In his Confessio Patrick writes: "It was not my grace, but God who overcometh in me, so that I came to the heathen Irish to preach the Gospel . . . to a people newly come to belief which the Lord took from the ends of the earth." Saint Germanus consecrated him bishop about 432AD, and sent him to Ireland to succeed Saint Palladius, the first bishop, who had died earlier that year. There was some opposition to Patrick's appointment, probably from Britain, but Patrick made his way to Ireland about 435AD.

He set up his see at Armagh and organized the church into territorial sees, as elsewhere in the West and East. While Patrick encouraged the Irish to become monks and nuns, it is not certain that he was a monk himself; it is even less likely that in his time the monastery became the principal unit of the Irish Church, although it was in later periods. The choice of Armagh may have been determined by the presence of a powerful king. There Patrick had a school and presumably a small familia in residence; from this base he made his missionary journeys. There seems to have been little contact with the Palladian Christianity of the southeast.

There is no reliable account of his work in Ireland, where he had been a captive. Legends include the stories that he drove snakes from Ireland, and that he described the Trinity by referring to the shamrock, and that he singlehandedly--an impossible task--converted Ireland. Nevertheless, Saint Patrick established the Catholic Church throughout Ireland on lasting foundations: he travelled throughout the country preaching, teaching, building churches, opening schools and monasteries, converting chiefs and bards, and everywhere supporting his preaching with miracles.

At Tara in Meath he is said to have confronted King Laoghaire on Easter Eve with the Christian Gospel, kindled the light of the paschal fire on the hill of Slane (the fire of Christ never to be extinguished in Ireland), confounded the Druids into silence, and gained a hearing for himself as a man of power. He converted the king's daughters (a tale I've recounted under the entry for Saints Ethenea and Fidelmia. He threw down the idol of Crom Cruach in Leitrim. Patrick wrote that he daily expected to be violently killed or enslaved again.

He gathered many followers, including Saint Benignus, who would become his successor. That was one of his chief concerns, as it always is for the missionary Church: the raising up of native clergy.

He wrote: "It was most needful that we should spread our nets, so that a great multitude and a throng should be taken for God. . . . Most needful that everywhere there should be clergy to baptize and exhort a people poor and needy, as the Lord in the Gospel warns and teaches, saying: Go ye therefore now, and teach all nations. And again: Go ye therefore into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature. And again: This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony to all nations."

In his writings and preaching, Patrick revealed a scale of values. He was chiefly concerned with abolishing paganism, idolatry, and sun-worship. He made no distinction of classes in his preaching and was himself ready for imprisonment or death for following Christ. In his use of Scripture and eschatological expectations, he was typical of the 5th-century bishop. One of the traits which he retained as an old man was a consciousness of his being an unlearned exile and former slave and fugitive, who learned to trust God completely.

There was some contact with the pope. He visited Rome in AD 442 and 444. As the first real organizer of the Irish Church, Patrick is called the Apostle of Ireland. According to the Annals of Ulster, the Cathedral Church of Armagh was founded in 444, and the see became a center of education and administration. Patrick organized the Church into territorial sees, raised the standard of scholarship (encouraging the teaching of Latin), and worked to bring Ireland into a closer relationship with the Western Church.

His writings show what solid doctrine he must have taught his listeners. His Confessio (his autobiography, perhaps written as an apology against his detractors), the Lorica (or Breastplate), and the 'Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus,' protesting British slave trading and the slaughter of a group of Irish Christians by Coroticus's raiding Christian Welshmen, are the first surely identified literature of the British or Celtic Church.

What stands out in his writings is Patrick's sense of being called by God to the work he had undertaken, and his determination and modesty in carrying it out: "I, Patrick, a sinner, am the most ignorant and of least account among the faithful, despised by many. . . . I owe it to God's grace that so many people should through me be born again to him."

Towards the end of his life, Patrick made that 'retreat' of forty days on Cruachan Aigli in Mayo from which the age-long Croagh Patrick pilgrimage derives. Patrick may have died at Saul on Strangford Lough, Downpatrick, where he had built his first church. Glastonbury claims his alleged relics. The National Museum at Dublin has his bell and tooth, presumably from the shrine at Downpatrick, where he was originally entombed with Saints Brigid and Columba.

The high veneration in which the Irish hold Patrick is evidenced by the common salutation, "May God, Mary, and Patrick bless you." His name occurs widely in prayers and blessings throughout Ireland. Among the oldest devotions of Ireland is the prayer used by travellers invoking Patrick's protection, An Mhairbhne Phaidriac or The Elegy of Patrick. He is alleged to have promised prosperity to those who seek his intercession on his feast day, which marks the end of winter. A particularly lovely legend is that the Peace of Christ will reign over all Ireland when the Palm and the Shamrock meet, which means when St. Patrick's Day fall on Passion Sunday.

Most unusual is Well of Saint Patrick at Orvieto, Italy, which was built at the order of Pope Clement VII in 1537AD to provide water for the city during its periodic sieges. The connection with Saint Patrick comes from the fact that the project was completed and dedicated by a member of the Sangallo family, a name derived from the Irish Saint Gall. A common Italian proverb refers to this exceptionally deep (248 steps to the surface) well: liberal spenders are said to have pockets as deep as the Well of Patrick (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Bieler, Bury, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, MacNeill, Montague, White).

We are told that often Patrick baptized hundreds on a single day. He would come to a place, a crowd would gather, and when he told them about the true God, the people would cry out from all sides that they wanted to become Christians. Then they would move to the nearest water to be baptized.

On such a day Aengus, a prince of Munster, was baptized. When Patrick had finished preaching, Aengus was longing with all his heart to become a Christian. The crowd surrounded the two because Aengus was such an important person. Patrick got out his book and began to look for the place of the baptismal rite but his crozier got in the way.

As you know, the bishop's crozier often has a spike at the bottom end, probably to allow the bishop to set it into the ground to free his hands. So, when Patrick fumbled searching for the right spot in the book so that he could baptize Aengus, he absent-mindedly stuck his crosier into the ground just beside him--and accidentally through the foot of poor Aengus!

Patrick, concentrating on the sacrament, never noticed what he had done and proceeded with the baptism. The prince never cried out, nor moaned; he simply went very white. Patrick poured water over his bowed head at the simple words of the rite. Then it was completed. Aengus was a Christian. Patrick turned to take up his crozier and was horrified to find that he had driven it through the prince's foot!

"But why didn't you say something? This is terrible. Your foot is bleeding and you'll be lame. . . ." Poor Patrick was very unhappy to have hurt another.

Then Aengus said in a low voice that he thought having a spike driven through his foot was part of the ceremony. He added something that must have brought joy to the whole court of heaven and blessings on Ireland:

"Christ," he said slowly, "shed His blood for me, and I am glad to suffer a little pain at baptism to be like Our Lord" (Curtayne).

In art, Saint Patrick is represented as a bishop driving snakes before him or trampling upon them. At times he may be shown (1) preaching with a serpent around the foot of his pastoral staff; (2) holding a shamrock; (3) with a fire before him; or (4) with a pen and book, devils at his feet, and seraphim above him (Roeder, White). He is patron of Nigeria (which was evangelized primarily by Irish clergy) and of Ireland and especially venerated at Lérins (Roeder, White).



The Story of Saint Patrick
by Alan O'Neill

It is said that Saint Patrick, the Apostle and Patron Saint of the Irish Nation called himself Patricus. Some sources say his British name was Succat. He was born in about the year 389/391 AD to a Celtic family in Roman Britain. His father, Calpurnius, was a curialis (tax collector) and his grandfather, Potitus, a catholic priest. At this time it was difficult to find people to collect taxes. The job was to be inherited and young Patricus was expected to follow in his father's footsteps, hardly a career to look forward to! They lived on the west coast of Britain, believed to be the area of Wales, with Hibernia (or Eirin) a short distance across the sea.

At 10 years of age (circa 401 AD), Patricus and his two sisters were stolen by Irish coastal raiders (some sources suggest he was 16 years old at the time). The Irish of the time conducted many coastal raids of Britain. It was written that they would sneak up in the early morning hours in their animal skin boats, pick secluded homes and steal away with the children. Niáll Noigiallach (of the nine Hostages), Chief of the Tuatha UiNiáll (tribe of the children of Niall) was King of Ireland at the time and having been responsible for leading his share of raids has been credited with being responsible for the enslavement of Patricus.

Some suggest the early Irish did not take slaves, the law only allowed the taking of hostages but according to St. Patrick's 'confessions' (as written by himself) he was hardly a hostage...no ransom was ever demanded. Instead he was made to watch over the sheep of King Miliucc who ruled some hills in Antrim between Lough Neagh and the mountains of Slaibh Mis. As a shepherd-slave Patricus spent months alone in the hills. He was the last thing on the mind of his master. He spent long stretches of time without a meal and his clothes became so worn and tattered that he was left virtually naked.
Slaibh MisIn his loneliness he began to pray saying as many as one hundred prayers during his waking hours. Prayer became his only comfort. After six years of enslavement he received a heavenly message while asleep. The mysterious voice said: "Your hungers are rewarded, you are going home". He awoke startled and the voice continued: "Look, your ship is ready". Patricus was nowhere near the coast but he knew it was time to leave. The trek took him some two hundred miles to likely the southeast where he approached a ship with sailors loading a cargo of Irish hounds for sale on the continent. The captain told him: "You're wasting your time asking to sail with us". Feeling uneasy because he knew that as a fugitive he could not expect much leniency, he walked away and once again began to pray. He then heard a sailor calling out to him to return and the captain said: "Come on board, we'll take you on trust".

It took three days to cross to the continent, finally arriving at likely Gaul (France) which at the time had been devastated by German war parties. There was no one to be found and no food about. The hungry captain turned to Patricus and exclaimed: "Quid est, Christiane? Tu dicis deus tuus magnus et omnipotens est; quare ergo non potes pro nobis orare? Quia nos a fame periclitamur; difficile est enim ut aliquem hominem umquam videamus!" Translated to mean: "How about it, Christian? You say your God is great and all-powerful, so why can't you pray for us? We're starving to death, and there's little chance of our ever seeing a living soul!" Patricus replied: "From the bottom of your heart, turn trustingly to the Lord my God, for nothing is impossible to Him, and today He will send you food for your journey until you are filled, for He has an abundance everywhere". In the moment of their hunger, and in light of Patricus' faith, the sailors bowed their heads and immediately heard the sound of a stampede. They were astonished to see a herd of pigs running towards them. (it should be noted that a feast of pig was considered the very best meal of the time)

It took Patricus a few more years to make his way back to his coastal home in Britain where he was welcomed by anxious parents. Patricus had grown through his teenage years away from his studies as a Roman Britain son of a tax collector. He was well behind his peers in education. He became restless in his homeland. In the middle of one night while asleep Patricus was visited by a vision of Victoricus, a man he knew in Eirin. Victoricus was holding many letters and handed one to Patricus who read the heading ~ VOX HIBERIONACUM ~ (The Voice of the Irish). At that instant he heard the voices of a crowd lamenting: 'We beg you to come and walk among us once more'. Patricus awoke. Some time went by but he could not forget the vision nor the message. He then heard another heavenly message within him: "He who gave His life for you, He it is who speaks within you". Patricus believed God had spoken to him and that He had a Heavenly mission for him!

Patricus followed the voices to Gaul, possibly the island monastery of Lérins offshore from the present day Cannes, and studied to become a priest. The night before he was ordained as Deacon, he confided to a friend a sin he committed at fifteen, and received forgiveness. This confession would come back to haunt him in later years when the British Bishops attempted to have Patrick removed from Ireland. To this day it is not known what the sin was. If he was in fact taken away from home at age ten, he would have been a lonely shepherd-slave at age fifteen. If he had been enslaved at age sixteen rather than age ten, some speculate he may have committed a murder, likely the worst crime of his time, in the year prior to his enslavement.

St. Palladius, the first bishop assigned to convert the pagans of Eirin to Christianity, died suddenly upon his arrival and so Patricus (or Padriac as he was called by the Irish) was sent as a replacement, as second bishop, to do the church's work. He arrived at Stranford Lough on the northeast coast of the Emerald Isle in about the year 432 AD. He proceeded to the heartland of the High King, Ard Marcha (Marcha's Heights presently known as Armagh) and established his seat of the primacy of the Christian Church in Ireland. He then travelled northeast to County Down and established his first church at Saul near present day Downpatrick.

It has been said that on receiving word of Patrick's return to Ireland King Miliucc committed suicide.

Patrick had his work cut out for him. The existing culture had little use for him. The King's wise men, the Druidae (Druids), counciled them in all aspects of ruling their kingdoms, from reading the stars to judging quarrels. The Druids have been referred to as priests of the ancient Celtic religion but some now believe they were more a fraternity of sorts of learned men and women. Some could be considered magicians (the likes of Merlin). Patrick had a few Celtic beliefs in his favour. The Gaelic race believed in the magic of the number three and it's associated numbers nine (3 x 3) and thirty three. Preaching the Holy Trinity fell in nicely with this. They also believed in the power of truth..."An Fhírinne in aghaidh an tSaoil" (The Truth against the world). Even today when it is wished to convey that a man/woman is dead it is said "Tá sé/sí in áit na fhírinne anois" (he/she is in the place of Truth now).

Patrick's faith was strong. He never showed fear and was always fair and honest. These things were respected by the Irish. As the country slowly converted he was appointed by High King Leogaire UiNiáll, in the year 438AD, to a commission of nine eminent persons to study, revise and commit to writing the civil law of Ireland known as Brehons Law. Three of the people were Christian, one being Patrick, three Brehons (persons learned in the law) Dubhtach Maccu Lugir - Chief Druid & the High King's personal advisor, Rossa and Fergus, and three Kings, Leogaire himself, Dara -King of Ulster and Corc -King of Munster. As Patrick knew little of the Brehon he was tutored by Dubhtach. This was a most notable moment in history because Brehon Law is the basis of the Magna Carta (1215 AD) of Great Britain and the Constitution of the United States of America (1787 AD). When it was codified it was called the Senchus Mór (civil law of all Ireland). The introduction says: "What did not clash with the word of God in the written Law and the New Testament, and with the consciences of the believers, was confirmed in the laws of the Brehons by Patrick and by the ecclesiastics and the chieftains of Eirin; and this is the Senchus Mór." The codification produced no new laws but was made up of those already in use with the addition of Scriptural or Canon Law.

As a testament of Patrick's faith we have from centuries past, a prayer known as St. Patrick's Breastplate
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity
Through belief in the threeness
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
I arise today
Through the Strength of Christ's birth with his baptism
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascention
Through the strength of his descent for the judgement of Doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim
In the obedience of angels
In the service of archangels
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward
In the prayers of patriachs
In predictions of prophets
In preaching of apostles
In faith of confessors
In innocence of holy virgins
In deeds of righteous men.
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven
Light of sun
Radiance of moon
Splendor of fire
Speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind
Depth of sea
Stability of earth
Firmness of rock.
I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me
God's might to uphold me
God's wisdom to guide me
God's eye to look before me
God's ear to hear me
God's word to speak for me
God's hand to guard me
God's way to lie before me
God's shield to protect me
God's host to save me
From snares of devils
From temptations of vices
From everyone who would wish me ill
Afar and anear
Alone and in multitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and those evils
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul
Against incantations of false prophets
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics
Against craft of idolatry
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning
Against drowning, against wounding
So that there may come to me abundance of reward
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me
Christ in every eye that sees me
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity
Through belief in the threeness
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

Patrick baptised many noble Irish during his lifetime. King Leogaire, however, was never one of them. He remained a pagan, true to a promise he had made to his father Niáll Noigiallach. His brother, Eogan (from whom the UaNiálls/O'Neills are descended), was personally baptized by Patrick and had the double honour to have been nicknamed 'the Lion Eogan MacNiáll' by Patrick.

Ireland was unique in that Christianity was introduced to it without bloodshed. Ireland had no martyrs until the reign of Elizabeth I. So, in place of the conventional Red martyrdom (by blood), was created a Green Martyrdom which begins by leaving the comforts of society for a retreat as a hermit, to the baptizing of new converts, to gathering his own twelve apostles and to building churches. If the priest/monk should complete these tasks for God then upon his death he is rewarded by being proclaimed a Saint. This was so successful that the overflow of new men of God travelled to other lands to preach and convert and build churches. Nearly 300 of the descendants of Niáll Noigiallach were canonized as Saints.

There are many stories attributed to Saint Patrick, most of which are fabrications of scribes hundreds of years after his death. One, which is believable, is his utilization of the shamrock (seamrog or 'little clover') to teach the Irish about the Holy Trinity. According to St. Patrick the three leaves represent God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The stalk represents the unity of the three into the one God.

Another story is that St. Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland. The Sacred Croagh Patrick near Downpatrick in County Mayo is credited as being one of two possible sites where this is claimed to have taken place. The other is a mountain known as 'the Reek', across Galway Bay in Donegal. Since it is documented that Ireland never had snakes the embellishment by the later clerics could be construed as meaning that he had chased Satan in the form of paganism out of Ireland.

It has also been written that St. Patrick ceremoniously burnt the Druid books in a successful attempt to rid the Ilse of the Druid religion. Part of the Druid belief was nothing should ever be written down other than laws and judgements. Teachings and beliefs of the Druids was learnt through a process of memorization over a period of at least twenty years. This is why Druidism is such a mystery today. The question remains, if Druid beliefs were not recorded how could St. Patrick collect and burn nonexistent books? Today some are beginning to believe that Druidism may not have been a religion although it certainly was full of tradition and ritual ceremony. It was also written by Caesar that the Gaelic people sacrificed humans to their god's. Animal sacrifices were performed, but even St. Patrick, in all his writings of the terrible pagan things the Celts had done, never wrote of witnessing a human sacrifice.

Driven by a divine calling, Saint Patrick returned to the land of his lost youth, his shepherd-slavery, to convert the pagan people to Christianity and abolish slavery. He succeeded well beyond anyone's expectations. Even the Bishops in Roman Britain were against him because he used the native beliefs, entwining them into an Irish Christianity. Take for example the Celtic cross. It is made up of the Christian cross with a circle representing the Celtic sun god. St. Patrick taught the Irish that Yahweh (I Am) was the only true sun God. This they accepted.

Saint Patrick died in his late seventies, circa 461/463 AD. The ancient Druid funeral ritual called for a feast, fled co-lige, followed by funeral games, cluiche caintech. The purpose of this ritual was to celebrate the rebirth in one's passing into the otherworld. The custom was to wash the body and wrap it in a shroud, or winding sheet, racholl. The body was watched or waked for one or more nights. Depending on the rank of the person this could be as many as twelve nights. St. Patrick was held in such high esteem that his wake lasted the full twelve nights. As a tribute to him, his death is celebrated around the world every 17th of March and is known as St. Patrick's Day, the one day everyone is an honorary Irishman.

St. Patrick is believed by some to be buried in the grounds of Downpatrick Cathedral. The site is marked by a large stone with his name chiselled into it.

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 Last updated 3 December, 2011