St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. His feast day is 17th March. As he lived so long ago- he was born around 450 AD - there are few accurate facts known about him. He is known to have been born in Britain in a place called Bannavem Taburniae on the Welsh/British border. He was sold into slavery and taken to Ireland. Patrick was very religious and prayed a lot. As a slave, he spent his days herding sheep. Legend has it that he prayed so hard one day he heard a voice telling him a ship was ready to take him away. And indeed the ship took him back home to Bannavem Taburniae. Patrick saw many visions. In one he was visited by an angel with a message from the Irish: “We beg you, Holy Boy, to come and walk again among us.” He trained as a bishop and went back to Ireland. However, answering the call of the Irish was hard. He suffered terribly as he travelled around Ireland spreading Christianity, living in harsh conditions and frequently being attacked.
According to one legend Patrick, mirroring Christ in the wilderness, fasted for 40 days on a mountain. Unlike Christ, he seemingly lost control of himself, weeping and throwing things. He refused to come down off the mountain until an angel came from God and granted Patrick’s demands. Again as the story goes, these demands included that he would be able to save more souls from hell than any other saint, that he would judge Irish sinners at the end of time and that the English would never rule Ireland. We know that sadly the last demand was not met but we won’t ever know about the other two!
Folklore has it that St Patrick banished snakes from Ireland and he is often depicted with snakes. This is just a story; there weren’t any snakes in Ireland in St Patrick’s time.