Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated every year on March 17 to represent the anniversary of the saint’s death. The saint’s death occurred in the fifth century (AD 461) and after more than 1,500 years the day is still a day of celebration in his honor. To be fair, after the saint’s death he was largely forgotten until the ninth or tenth century when the Roman Catholic feast day of St. Patrick began to be observed annually on March 17. Ireland made Saint Patrick’s Day an official public holiday in 1903 and although the celebrations across the world are primarily secular ones, it remains a religious holiday to be observed in Ireland.
Saint Patrick was born in Great Britain, but was kidnapped at the age of 16 and brought to Ireland to be a slave. He escaped, but then he later returned to Ireland to bring Christianity to its countrymen. He is believed to have used the shamrock as a simple way to share the gospel of the trinity. In his teachings he supposedly likened the three leaves of a shamrock as representation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day as a holy day of obligation and solemnity. The religious holiday is also celebrated by the Church of Ireland, which is the Irish branch of the Anglican Communion. Since this celebratory day falls right in the middle of lent, it is enjoyed by all Catholics as a church sanctified break from their Lenten fasts. There are a multitude of Catholic services and programs on this day to honor the saint who spent his life bringing Christianity to the country he was stolen away to in slavery in his youth. Saint Patrick devoted his life to servitude and to spread the joy and love of the Christian faith.
There are many myths that surround the legacy of Saint Patrick. One is a fabricated claim that he eradicated snakes from the island. But truth be told there never have been any snakes found in Ireland, likely due to the fact that it is surrounded by icy, cold ocean waters that are much too cold to allow snakes to navigate through to migrate there from, well, from anywhere. However, since snakes represent evil in much of ancient literature it is considered symbolic that by bringing Christianity to the land he drove out the pagan ways, which were believed to be evil. Thus the myth that he drove snakes from Ireland was born.