Saint Patrick - Ireland's Patron Saint
Some studies suggest that St. Patrick's real name was Maewyn Succat and that he was born at the end of the fourth century on the island of Britain (possibly Wales or Scotland). At the age of sixteen he was kidnapped by a band of pirates, and sold into slavery in Ireland, where he worked as a shepherd. After six long years of slavery he escaped to the northern coast of Gaul (modern France) where he began studies to become a priest. Here he took on the name Patrick (Patricus). According to legend, Patrick had recurrent dreams, which he interpreted as a calling from God to convert the pagans of Ireland to Christianity.

In about 432 AD, Patrick arrived in Ireland, where he used the shamrock, which resembles a three-leafed clover, to help explain the concept of the Holy Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). On one occasion, Patrick defied the High King of Ireland, by lighting a fire on top of a hill at Tara, the ancient capital of Ireland, before the High King himself. This was on the Celtic feast of Bealtaine, when tradition dictated that the High King would light the first fire, from which all others would be lit. Patrick's fire seemed to have magical powers and proved to the High King that Patrick's God was more powerful than the God's of the Druids.

Patrick travelled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries and setting up schools and churches to aid in converting the Irish country to Christianity. Legend tells us that Saint Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland, by forcing them into the sea where they drowned. There are no snakes in Ireland today (except in zoos).

Patrick preached in Ireland for thirty years. He ended his mission in County Down and where he died on 17th March in 461 AD. That day has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day ever since.

The main St. Patrick's Day festival is held in Dublin, but St. Patrick's Day is celebrated throughout the world by Irish people and friends of Ireland. St. Patrick's Day parades take place in New York, Moscow, Munich, Vienna and many other cities throughout the world.

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