Indiana News

Who is Saint Patrick?


Saint Patrick (Photo courtesy

We march in parades, dance the Irish jig and drink green beer on St. Patrick's Day. But who is Patrick?

Saint Patrick was born in Wales, studied religion to become a priest and then went to Ireland to teach the people about God.  Ball State University History Professor Frederick Suppe says there are many stories about St. Patrick, some true and some not so true.

The most famous legend is that he drove the snakes out of Ireland. Professor Suppe says that's a story that developed around two hundred years after his death.  "We should read between the lines of his biography and think here's this really dynamic guy whose devoting his life to Christianity and converting people to Christianity and that's where the shamrock is coming from," he said.

Professor Suppe says Saint Patrick's day is just not for the Irish. "After World War II and television and things, a lot people in Ireland were kind of amazed at what was going on especially in the United States and also Canada to celebrate their national Saints Day, all this green beer and things," Suppe said. "Many Irish people who were no longer living in Ireland wanted something like a flag or symbol and one of the things they could celebrate was St. Patricks Day."

Professor Suppe says March 17 was the day St. Patrick died, not the day he was born. Even though we don't know the date of his birth, most scholars believe the year was 385 AD and the year of his death was 461.


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