Man taking photo at St Patrick's Day parade, Dublin
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10 facts about St. Patrick we bet you didn't know!

Learn more about the iconic saint behind the national holiday

While Ireland's patron saint day is celebrated around the country with parties and parades, what do we know about the man himself? Check out our favourite 10 facts about St. Patrick that you may not know!

A green three-leafed shamrock
A lucky shamrock

1. St. Patrick wasn't Irish

Despite being the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick was born in Britain in either Scotland or Wales (accounts tend to vary on that point). His parents, Calpurnius and Conchessa, were both Roman citizens and his mother gave birth to him in 385AD.

2. Slavery was what brought St. Patrick to Ireland

As a teenager, St. Patrick was kidnapped by a pirate raiding party and sold into slavery in Ireland. As a slave, he looked after and herded sheep for many years before fleeing to a monastery in England. While there, he became a devout follower of Christianity and was ordained a bishop, after which he returned to Ireland as a missionary.

3. The shamrock as an Irish symbol is said to have been popularised by St. Patrick

As the stories go, St. Patrick supposedly used the iconic three-leafed shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity while preaching. With each leaf representing Christianity's Holy Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it was a symbol that showed how they could be three different spiritual entities and yet all part of the same whole.

4. St. Patrick wore blue, not green

Although everyone is expected to wear green on St. Patrick's Day, all surviving artworks of St. Patrick show him wearing blue robes. It's the reason why through the years, flags, sports uniforms, and coat-of-arms featured the color. As time progressed, green as a national color grew in favor, particularly in the 17th century.

5. St. Patrick probably didn't drive all the snakes out of Ireland

One of the most popular myths about the Irish saint is that he rid the country of snakes, but modern science has since ruined that belief for everyone. As Ireland has always been an incredibly cold country, scientists have said that it's highly unlikely that there were any snakes to begin with and there are no fossils to disprove the theory.

6. St Patrick's Day is held on the day he passed away

In the Catholic tradition, the day a saint passes away is considered a holy day to celebrate their ascension into heaven. St. Patrick passed away on March 17 and it continues to be when St. Patrick's Day is held annually.

7. St. Patrick isn't technically a saint...

While he's been given the title in popular lore, St. Patrick was never actually officially canonized as a saint. However many still recognise his contributions to the Catholic church and he remains a spiritual figure to this day.

8. ...and Patrick wasn't even St. Patrick's given name

St. Patrick's given name was Maewyn Succat. It wasn't until he became a priest that he adopted a new name - Patrick, after Patricius (which relates to the Latin root meaning father).

9. 'Drowning the Shamrock' is said to have started with St. Patrick

The tradition of drinking to celebrate St. Patrick's Day is said to have started with the saint himself, who announced that everybody should have a drop of the hard stuff' after an innkeeper was less than forthcoming with a bottle of whiskey. While there was a brief period where drinking on St. Patrick's Day was banned, the tradition has since returned in full force.

10. Legend has it that St. Patrick's walking stick grew into a tree while he was preaching

Another popular tale regarding St. Patrick tells the story of how he left his ashwood walking stick in the ground, while he went off to try and convert the villagers of a small town to Christianity. The effort took so long that the walking stick became an ash tree which the town takes its name from - Aspatria, Cumbria, in the north of England.

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