Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick (Latin: Patricius; Primitive Irish: *Qatrikias; Old Irish: Cothraige or Coithrige; Middle Irish: Pátraic; Irish: Pádraig; Old Welsh: Patric; Middle Welsh: Padric; Welsh: Padrig; Old English: Patric; ca. 387 – 17 March, 493 or ca. 460) was a Romano-British and Christian missionary, who is the most generally recognized patron saint of Ireland or the Apostle of Ireland, although Brigid of Kildare and Colmcille are also formally patron saints.

Two authentic letters from him survive, from which come the only generally accepted details of his life. When he was about 16, he was captured from his home by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After entering the Church, he returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop in the north and west of the island, but little is known about the places where he worked. By the seventh century, he had come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland.

Most available details of his life are from later hagiographies from the seventh century onwards, and these are now not accepted without detailed criticism. Uncritical acceptance of the Annals of Ulster would imply that he lived from 340 to 440, and ministered in what is modern-day Northern Ireland from AD 428 onwards. The dates of Patrick's life cannot be fixed with certainty but, on a widespread interpretation, he was active as a missionary in Ireland during the second half of the fifth century.

Saint Patrick's Day is observed on March 17, the date of his death. It is celebrated both inside and outside Ireland, as both a liturgical and non-liturgical holiday. In the dioceses of Ireland, it is both a solemnity and a holy day of obligation; outside Ireland, it can be a celebration of Ireland itself.

Read more about Saint Patrick:  Background, In His Own Words, Death, Seventh-century Writings, Saint Patrick's Bell, St. Patrick and Irish Identity, Sainthood and Modern Remembrance, Places Associated With Saint Patrick, In Literature

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