New Catholic Dictionary – Saint Patrick

detail of stained glass window of Saint Patrick, date and artist unknown; Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Knoxville, Tennessee; photographed on 16 September 2016 by Nheyob; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Confessor, Bishop of Armagh, apostle of Ireland; born Kilpatrick, Scotland, 387; died Saul, Ireland, 493. He belonged to a Celto-Roman family of high rank, and at the age of sixteen was captured by Irish marauders and sold into slavery in Dalriada. During his captivity he was converted, and acquired a knowledge of the Celtic tongue and race. After six years he escaped, returned to Britain, thence to Gaul, and studied at Tours, Urins, and Auxerre. He put himself under the guidance of Saint Germain at Auxerre and went as his mission companion to Britain. Pope Saint Celestine I, at the recommendation of Saint Germain, entrusted Saint Patrick with the mission of converting the Irish race. Patrick received episcopal consecration in the city of Turin at the hands of Saint Maximus and shortly afterwards set out for the Irish mission. He and his companions landed at Wicklow Head probably during the summer of 433, were attacked by the Druids, but proceeded to Dalriada, and erected a church at Sabhall in a barn given them by one of their first converts. On Easter Sunday, 433, Patrick pleaded for the faith before King Leoghaire, and converted his brother, Conall, and Dubhtach, the chief bard. It was on this occasion that Saint Patrick is said to have plucked a shamrock from the sward, to explain by its triple leaf and single stem the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. After this, permission was granted to Patrick to preach the faith throughout Erin. Saint Patrick set out for Connaught, and on his way thither, smote the chief idol Crom-Cruach. He spent seven years visiting every district of Connaught, organizing parishes, forming dioceses, and instructing the chieftains and people. In 440 Saint Patrick entered on the special work of the conversion of UIster, and in 444, founded a church at Armagh. From Ulster he probably proceeded to Meath to consolidate the organization of the communities there, thence through Leinster and Gowran into Ossory, where he erected a church under the invocation of Saint Martin, near the present city of Kilkenny. Saint Patrick then went to Munster, where he baptized AEngus, son of the King of Munster, and spent considerable time in the present County of Limerick. It is recorded that he consecrated no less than 350 bishops, and continued until his death to visit and watch over the churches he had founded in all the provinces of Ireland. When not engaged in the work of the sacred ministry, his whole time was spent in prayer and penitential austerities. During his apostolate in Ireland he was subjected to frequent trials by the Druids and other enemies of the Faith, and no less than twelve times he and his companions were taken prisoners and condemned to death. From all these trials he was liberated by Providence, and did not die until his triumph over paganism was complete. He was buried at the chieftain’s Dun or Fort near Saul, where later was founded the cathedral of Down. Devotion to him is one of national import throughout Catholic Ireland, and his feast day is one of festivity and public recognition wherever conditions permit. Patron of Ireland and of many cathedrals in Ireland, the United states, and Australasia. Emblems: serpent, baptismal font, cross, harp, demons, shamrock, and purgatory. Feast, Roman Calendar, 17 March.

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Patrick”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 31 October 2016. Web. 28 September 2021. <>