Special Report

St. Patrick Was British and Other Lesser-Known Facts About St. Patrick’s Day

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St. Patrick was born in Britain, not Ireland

The exact birthplace of St. Patrick is not known, but what is certain is that it wasn’t Ireland. He was born in what is now Great Britain, either England, Scotland, or Wales. According to his own autobiography, he was from Bannavem Taberniae, which might be Banwen in Neath Port Talbot in Wales. The village actually holds a service in St. Patrick honor every year.

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Patrick was a slave in Ireland

The first time St. Patrick stepped foot in Ireland was when he was 16 and brought there as a slave. Irish raiders kidnapped him from his father’s home. He worked as a herdsman for six years. This is when he became religious. He turned to faith to keep him strong. St. Patrick later wrote that God spoke to him, telling him how to escape, and that is what he did.

Source: Gavigan 01 at the English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

His name was not even Patrick

St. Patrick was born Maewyn Succat (although some historians disagree) around 386 A.D. into a rich Roman family. His father was a deacon, and his grandfather, also a clergy member, served during the reign of Constantine the Great, first emperor to adhere to Christianity. But Maewyn was not religious at all. It’s believed that he took the name Patrick sometime during his religious journeys.

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In Ireland, pubs were closed on March 17 until 1970s

Imagine a holiday that is largely associated with drinking and no place to actually perform this sacred ritual. March 17 in Ireland has been celebrated as a religious feast day, marking the death of the nation’s patron saint. As a sign of respect, there was no drinking. Irish law banned pubs from opening on that day until the 1970s. Maeve Binchy, an Irish novelist, at that time called Dublin “the dullest place on Earth to spend St. Patrick’s Day.”

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March 17 is the day of his death

Usually the date on which a person is celebrated for his or her achievements or significant contributions to a country is his or her birthday, or the anniversary of another event to be celebrated. For example, Presidents’ Day is George Washington’s birthday. But this is not the case for the Feast of St. Patrick. March 17 is the day on which he died.