The Legend of St. Patrick
Facts and Legends about Saint Patrick
St Patrick was not the first missionary to visit Ireland. Christians
were in Ireland before St Patrick. Palladius was sent by Pope Celestine in
St Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. It is said he after
giving a sermon from Croagh Patrick mountain, Co Mayo, the Saint rang his
bell, all the snakes in Ireland fled into the sea and drowned. However it
is very unlikely that Ireland had any snakes. The snakes were later used
as a metaphor to represent paganism.
Saint Patrick spent fourty days of Lent on Craogh Patrick in 441AD,
following the examples of Christ and Moses.
The mountain is still surrounded by mystery and is annually visited by
devout pilgrims. Every year thousands of pilgrims, many in bare feet,
climb the 2,500ft to the peak of Croagh Patrick to pay homage to Saint
Patrick's Christian mission in Ireland. The mountain has a granite figure
of the saint at its summit. Many people hold their wedding ceremonies at
the mountain top.
Irish immigrants took their rich heritage and St Patrick's Day
celebrations with them wherever the settled.
The first St Patrick's Day parade celebration was in 1737 hosted by
the Charitable Irish Society in Boston. The second was established in 1780
by the Friendly Sons of St Patrick in Philadelphia. The annual tradition
of celebrating Saint Patrick and Irishness was spread throughout Ireland,
America and the world and continues today.
St Patrick became a hero in Ireland. No fewer than 60 churches and
cathedrals are named after him - both Roman Catholic and Anglican. Armagh,
where Saint Patrick returned to and set up a monastic establishment, is
today called the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland. It is home to St
Patrick's Church of Ireland cathedral and St Patrick's Roman Catholic
Legend indicates that Saint Patrick used the shamrock as a metaphor to
explain the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). It has been associated
with Ireland since that time. The shamrock is a tiny three-leafed weed
belonging to the clover family.
The shamrock was traditionally worn in Ireland as a symbol of the
cross. It is not however the national emblem of Ireland - it is the harp.
St Patrick's Day is a day to wear green as it was Patrick's colour.
Green is associated with Saint Patrick more because it is the colour
associated with Ireland, the shamrock and the colour of Spring. Many also
believe Patrick wore green vestments.
The cross of Saint Patrick has a red saltire on a white background.
This symbol is used in the flag of the Royal Dublin Society and in the
arms of the Queen's University of Belfast. Blue is also associated with
Patrick. It was found on the badge of the Order of the Knights of Saint
Patrick founded in 1783 by George III.