About St. Patrick
Feast Day March 17
Patron Saint of Ireland, engineers, and invoked against snakes and sins.
Born around 389 AD in Britain, Patrick was the fifth century bishop and patron of Ireland, whose life of holiness set the example for many of the Church's future saints. Known as the "Apostle of Ireland," he is the primary patron saint of Ireland.
At 16, Patrick (along with many others) was captured by pirates and sold as a slave in Ireland. Forced to work as a shepherd, he suffered greatly from hunger and cold. Looking after the animals, he lived in captivity for six years before escaping and returning to his family.
Patrick then studied the Christian faith at monastic settlements in Italy and France. He was ordained a deacon by the Bishop of Auxerre, France around the year 418 AD and ordained a bishop in 432 AD.
It was around this time when he was assigned to minister to the communities in Ireland. When Patrick returned to Ireland, he was able to use his knowledge of Irish culture that he gained during his years of captivity.
Early tradition regards him as the founder of Christianity in Ireland, converting a society practicing a form of Celtic polytheism. He was a determined evangelizer and a courageous preacher.
Legend credits Patrick with teaching about the doctrine of the Holy Trinity by showing people a three leaf clover — also known as a shamrock — to help non Christians and new converts visualize the mystery of the Trinity. The shamrock, a single plant with three leaves, is similar to the one Triune God with three separate and distinct persons — God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
The additional leaf on a four leaf clover — which is considered lucky — represents Mary, the Mother of God. The luck is prosperity and grace given to us by the Holy Trinity through Mary.