A Brief History Of St. Patrick

The history of St. Patrick's life helps us understand why he is so revered and why so many people celebrate his holiday each year.

Although not much is known about St. Patrick, there are enough tidbits from his life to help us understand why this patron saint of Ireland is so revered and why we celebrate his life, death and accomplishments each year.

For starters, St. Patrick is credited with not only bringing Christianity to thousands of Irish, but with founding hundreds of churches to help these converts celebrate and continue their faith.

While this missionary activity is certainly the most important aspect of his life, it really is just the end result of his service to God.

Where did it all begin? Most historians believe that Patrick was born in Britain near the end of the fourth century to wealthy parents. At the age of 16, however, Irish raiders attacked his family estate, captured the teenage Patrick, and transported him to Ireland.

Like any person taken away from a loving family, however, Patrick was lonely and afraid. It is at this point in his life that he turned to God for comfort and guidance, becoming a devout Christian.

After six years as a slave, however, Patrick began to hear a voice""-which he believed was God's""-telling him it was time to leave Ireland. Considering he was a prisoner, this was no easy task. But God created a means of escape, and Patrick snuck away from the marauders, walked nearly 200 miles to the Irish coast, and sailed back to Britain.

Years later, though, he received a second revelation from God telling him to go back to Ireland as a missionary. He listened to the voice once again, and the rest, as they say, is history. His mission lasted nearly 30 years, up until he died on March 17, 461.

As for the holiday commemorating St. Patrick, it's easy to see where the date came from. And the Irish have been celebrating his life, death and accomplishments with dancing and feasts for nearly 1,500 years. But it's surprising to note that the first St. Patrick's Day parade actually took place in the United States. As the story goes, Irish soldiers serving in the English army marched through New York City on March 17, 1762 to celebrate their heritage and reconnect with their Irish roots.

Today, this holiday is celebrated by people of all backgrounds, although most of the festivities take place in the U.S, Canada, Australia, and of course, Ireland.

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