Why We Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day

The details concerning the story of Saint Patrick vary depending on who is telling his story, but in general, we do know he was born in Britain. And, he was captured either by Irish raiders or potential Roman raiders. Ireland was under Roman rule at the time, so the details of capture are unclear.

Either way, he spent six years in captivity before finally escaping. It was during his time in captivity that Patrick became a devout Christian. When he escaped, he dedicated his life to God and became a Priest.

There are several stories of how Patrick made his way back to Ireland. Some say it was in a dream that God revealed the need for him there. Others think the Catholic Church sent him because of his knowledge of the culture. Either way, he dedicated his life to bringing Christianity to Ireland.

Charged with this task of evangelizing Ireland, mostly Pagan at the time, Saint Patrick chose to do something unique. He decided to use traditional Irish symbols, such as the sun, superimposing it on a cross, creating the now cherished Celtic cross. He also used lucky clovers, abundant in Ireland, to explain the Holy Trinity. All Saints are assigned a botanical symbol, so the lucky clover became a symbol of sainthood and good deeds.

This approach gained him acceptance and respect. He resurrected churches, built a priesthood, and converted many pagans to Christianity. In Ireland, his feast day is a celebration dating back thousands of years.

In the 18th century, however, parties seemed to start to explode. People began to use it as a “day off from Lent” in the days leading up to Easter. Large parties, parades, and festivals can now be found all over the world.

But would you guess that Saint Patrick was actually never canonized a saint? It’s true! During the first years of the Catholic Church, there was no formal canonization process. Saint was a title bestowed onto martyrs and those who were exceptionally holy. Thanks to his work in evangelizing Ireland, we now celebrate Saint Patrick.