St. Patrick

About Saint Patrick

Patrick Driving the Snakes out of Ireland
Patrick Driving the Snakes out of Ireland

St Patrick was born in either Great Britain or Gaul (present day Northern France, the sources do not agree) at a time when the Roman Empire was losing its grip on Western Europe. The Roman Army was being brought back to the center of the Empire, and local leaders were beginning to control their surrounding lands. Patrick had to live near a coast, which were often infiltrated by seaborne pirates raiding to capture young people that they could sell as slaves.

Patrick was raised if not in luxury, living in the benefits of an important Roman family. So when at the age of 16.he was captured by pirates from Ireland and sold into slavery, it had to be a great shock. He lived in captivity for six years, learning the Celtic language and having time to pray as he guarded his cruel master’s sheep throughout the night. The time for prayer led him to make a deep commitment to Christianity.

After six years he escaped, managed to walk 200 miles to a seaport, and convince a local ship master to give him passage back home. But for Patrick home was no longer in the circle of his family. He felt an irresistible call to return to Ireland as a bishop and missionary.

Patrick returned to Ireland about 432, and for the next 30 years or so preached especially to the pagans bringing them the message of Jesus Christ saving all from their sins. Tradition tells the stories of many miracles, much suffering on the part of Patrick as he was imprisoned at least twelve times by his enemies. One time he was bound in heavy chains marked for death. His continual suffering was so great that some of the ancient lists of martyrs include his name. As bishop Patrick not only preached and baptized but also organized the churches in Ireland, taught against heresies as they showed themselves, and left members of his missionary band behind to continue the organization.

Patrick could only move forward based in his great faith in Christ as expressed partly in the prayer he is said to have written (two versions shown below.

St Patrick is one of the most popular saints in Western Christendom. He is the Patron Saint of Ireland. He is said to have banished the snakes from Ireland. In his iconography St Patrick is most often seen in the miter and vestments of a bishop carrying a bishop’s crozier and a shamrock. It is said that he used the shamrock as a teaching aid when preaching on the Trinity.

While his feast day on March 17 is celebrated with singing, parades, and dancing, it is important to remember St Patrick is a saint who knew all the trials of life on a painful journey. He is a saint who understands our trials as we walk with Jesus and one another, and is a willing intercessor on our behalf.

Shop St. Patrick Medals and Rosaries

More About St. Patrick

It’s often said that on St. Patrick’s Day “everyone is Irish.” Everyone, that is, except St. Patrick himself! Born into a family of Romans living in Great Britain, St. Patrick was actually born in Scotland. Captured by Irish pirates as a young man, he was brought to Ireland, where he became known as a great preacher who taught the pagans about Christianity and brought many Irish people to God.

St. Patrick was born around 385 in Kilpatrick, Scotland. His parents, Calpernius and Conchessa, were Romans living in Britain. When St. Patrick was around 14-16 years old, he was captured by Irish pirates and brought back to Ireland to be a shepherd. The people in Ireland at the time were pagans or Druids, and did not have any Christian education. St. Patrick learned the language of the people (now known as Gaelic or Irish), as well as their culture and traditions. While he was held captive, St. Patrick grew in his prayer life, turning to God for solace and comfort. As he grew older, he felt called to share his faith with the people of Ireland who did not know Christ or the One, True God. His understanding of the Irish people helped him to communicate with them and reach them in a way they could relate to.

St Patrick and the Shamrock
St Patrick and the Shamrock

When St. Patrick was twenty years old, he escaped from his captivity after receiving a dream from God. In the dream, he was told to go to the coast of Ireland. When he did this, he found sailors on the shore who were willing to take him back to his family in Britain. While living in Britain, he had another dream, this one showing him the people of Ireland calling out to him, calling him holy and begging him to come walk among them once more. St. Patrick began studying for the priesthood after this, and was later ordained by St. Germanus. Later St. Patrick was ordained bishop and sent to spread the Gospel in Ireland.

St. Patrick arrived in Ireland on March 25, 433. Upon arriving, St. Patrick met the chieftain of one of the Irish tribes, named Dichu. He threatened to kill St. Patrick. When Dichu’s arm was made immobile, he began listening to St. Patrick’s preaching. Dichu received the message and was converted to Christianity. After this, his arm was able to move freely. This conversion was just one of many that St. Patrick brought about in Ireland by preaching among the people. Some people began following him, and he sent them out to preach as well. St. Patrick and his followers combined converted thousands of Irish people. Churches were built throughout Ireland. When kings were converted, their families and kingdoms were also converted by the message that spread throughout the land.

Some of the followers of St. Patrick were named Beningnus, Auxilius, Iserninus, and Fiaac. All of these individuals would later be canonized saints in the Church. His preaching also made a great impact on St. Brigid of Ireland, who would go on to build churches and found monasteries throughout Ireland.

St. Patrick’s method of sharing the Christian belief in the Trinity with the Irish is linked to perhaps the most widely known Irish symbol worldwide: the shamrock. Using this readily available plant, St. Patrick was able to make the mystery of the Trinity a concept that was easy to grasp. Explaining that though the shamrock contains three individual leaves, these leaves grow from the same stem, making them into one plant as a whole. In the same way, he said, God is Three Persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – yet, as the shamrock is one plant, the Three Persons of the Trinity are One God. In using this example (which could be found in any yard or on any hillside in Ireland), the people were able to begin to grasp the complexities of the Faith to which they would dedicate their lives.

St. Patrick preached all over Ireland for forty years. Over these years he worked many miracles. He also wrote of his love for God in his “Confessions.” St. Patrick died on March 17, 461 in Saul, where he had built his first church in Ireland. His remains are buried in Downpatrick, Scotland.

It is commonly said that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. In some legends, he drove them to the ocean to drown after they plagued him during a time of fasting. Other stories state that there never were snakes (of the reptilian variety) in Ireland; however, they were a powerful symbol to the pagans who lived in Ireland at the time of St. Patrick. Some believe that the idea of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland is a metaphor for St. Patrick spreading Christianity throughout Ireland, thereby removing the pagan traditions and symbols (such as the snake).

A Religious Medal Featuring St Patrick
A Religious Medal Featuring St Patrick

Patronage of St. Patrick

St. Patrick is the patron saint of engineers, those afraid of snakes/for protection against snake bites, Ireland, and Nigeria. He is the patron saint of engineers because of the many churches he built in Ireland.

St. Patrick in Art

The symbols that St. Patrick is often depicted with are a cross, the clerics of a bishop (including the staff), the shamrock, and snakes. The cross and clerics of a bishop represent his Christian faith, and the status in the church that he held as a bishop. He is shown with the shamrock as a reminder of the method he used to preach about the Trinity to the Irish people. The snakes he is shown with are a reference to the legend that he removed the snakes from Ireland

Medals of St. Patrick

St Patrick is typically portrayed in medals and pendants in his role as Bishop. You will often see the elements of the crosier (Bishop’s Staff), shamrock of snakes. Find Saint Patrick Medals.

St. Patrick Prayers

Lorica of Saint Patrick

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

Icon of St Patrick
Icon of St Patrick

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation

St. Patrick (ca. 377)

St. Patrick’s Breastplate (v1)

Christ be with me, Christ within me
Christ behind me,
Christ before me
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me
Christ to comfort me and restore me.
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger
Christ in hearts of all that love me
Christ in mouth of friend or stranger.(390-461 A.D.)

St. Patrick’s Breastplate (v2) (Christ’s Breastplate)

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the poop [deck],
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Icon of Patrick with a Shamrock
Icon of Patrick with a Shamrock

Prayer for the Faithful by Saint Patrick

May the Strength of God guide us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us.
– Against the snares of the evil one.May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!May Thy Grace, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen.

Prayer to St. Patrick, Patron of Ireland

Dear St. Patrick,
in your humility you called yourself a sinner,
but you became a most successful missionary
and prompted countless pagans
to follow the Saviour.
Many of their descendents in turn
spread the Good News in numerous foreign lands.
Through your powerful intercession with God,
obtain the missionaries we need
to continue the work you began.

Prayer about St. Patrick

God our Father,
you sent Saint Patrick to preach your glory to the people of Ireland.
By the help of his prayers,
may all Christians proclaim your love to all men.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

A Chaplet of St Patrick

Prayer on the Medal: The Apostle’s Creed

On Each of the 12 Green Beads: Say 1 Glory Be, then:
Through the intercession of St. Patrick, may God Almighty strengthen my faith, and grant the grace of faith for others. Amen.

Concluding Prayer:
The Breastplate of St. Patrick
Christ as a light,
Illumine and guide me!
Christ as a shield, overshadow and cover me!
Christ be under me! Christ be over me!
Christ be beside me, On the left hand and right!
Christ be before me, behind me, about me;
Christ this day be within and without me!

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