Thursday, March 17, 2011
Saint Patrick (Latin: Patricius; Primitive Irish: *Qatrikias; Old Irish: Cothraige or Coithrige; Middle Irish: Pátraic; Irish: Pádraig; British: *Patrikios; Old Welsh: Patric; Middle Welsh: Padric; Welsh: Padrig; Old English: Patric; c. 387 – 17 March, 493) was a Romano-Briton and Christian missionary, who is the most generally recognized patron saint of Ireland or the Apostle of Ireland, although Brigid of Kildare and Colmcille are also formally patron saints.
Two authentic letters from him survived, from which come the only universally accepted details of his life. When he was about 16, he was captured from Britain by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. After entering the Church, he returned to Ireland as an ordained bishop in the north and west of the island, but little is known about the places where he worked. By the seventh century, he had come to be revered as the patron saint of Ireland.
Most available details of his life are from later hagiographies from the 7th century onwards, and these are now not accepted without detailed criticism. Uncritical acceptance of the Annals of Ulster would imply that he lived from 340 to 440, and ministered in what is modern day Northern Ireland from 428 onwards. The dates of Patrick's life cannot be fixed with certainty, but on a widespread interpretation he was active as a missionary in Ireland during the second half of the 5th century.
Saint Patrick's Day is observed on March 17, the date of Patrick's death. It is celebrated both in and outside of Ireland, as both a liturgical and non-liturgical holiday. In the dioceses of Ireland it is both a solemnity and a holy day of obligation and outside of Ireland, it can be a celebration of Ireland itself
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