How much do you know about Saint Patrick?

Many consider Saint Patrick's Day as an excuse to have a Guinness or two and claim that our great, great, grandparents hailed from the Emerald Isle. But how much do you actually know about the saint himself?

How much do you know about Saint Patrick? © Getty Images

Saint Patrick wasn’t Irish

Advertisement

His exact birthplace and date are unknown, but it’s believed to have been somewhere in Roman Britain in the late 4th or early 5th century. He was sold into slavery and taken to Ireland when he was roughly 16.

Officially, he isn’t a saint

After turning to prayer to help him cope with his enslavement, Patrick managed to escape Ireland and became a priest. He then returned to the place of his captivity and began to spread the teachings of Christianity. He established monasteries, churches and schools, and became Bishop of Ireland. However, he was never canonised by a pope which is the traditional way of creating a saint. His popularity and acclaim by the people of Ireland led them to adopt him as their national saint and he is considered as such by many churches.

Legends say he removed all the snakes from Ireland

The most well-known story about Saint Patrick is that he banished all of the snakes from Ireland. However, there have never been any snake fossils found in Ireland, suggesting there never were any in the first place. It’s possible that during the Ice Age, Ireland wasn’t a suitable habitat for snakes to thrive. The snake myth may have been used as an allegory for paganism.

Saint Patrick’s Day hasn’t always been on 17 March

Advertisement

In 2008, the feast day was moved forward in Ireland to the 15th, so that it wouldn’t clash with Easter week. A similar thing happened in 1940, when Saint Patrick’s Day clashed with Palm Sunday.