St Patrick's Day
Statue of St Patrick, County Mayo, Ireland

St Patrick
Co. Mayo, Ireland

St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Britain to a wealthy family in the late fourth century CE. At the age of sixteen, Irish marauders captured him, took him to Ireland and sold him into slavery. He remained in captivity for six years before managing to escape. After spending 15 years in religious training, Patrick returned to Ireland as the country’s second bishop and embarked on converting the natives to Christianity. His thirty-year mission in Ireland saw him establish monasteries, schools and churches across the country.

St Patrick’s Day is commemorated each year on 17 March, the day on which he is believed to have died in around 460 CE. Traditionally, Irish Catholics attend mass and offer prayers to missionaries around the world. It is also customary to wear a three-leafed shamrock—the symbol that St Patrick used to explain the concept of the trinity.* In recent years, celebratory parades, firework displays and parties have marked the religious feast day.

*Each of the three leaves of the shamrock represents a part of the trinity—father, son and holy spirit—and demonstrates how three separate entities can be one.