How Did St. Patrick Become A Saint? Here Are Facts

St. Patrick, known as the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity’s most widely known figures. But how did he become a saint?

Early Life and Enslavement

St. Patrick was born in Britain in the late 4th century to a wealthy family. At the age of 16, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland as a slave. He spent six years in captivity, during which he turned to his faith for solace.

Escape and Return to Britain

St. Patrick escaped from slavery after having a dream in which God told him to leave Ireland by going to the coast. He found sailors who took him back to Britain, where he was reunited with his family.

Return to Ireland

After his return to Britain, St. Patrick had another dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him to return and walk among them once more. He began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than 15 years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission: to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin converting the Irish.

St. Patrick’s Missionary Work in Ireland

After returning to Ireland, St. Patrick embarked on his mission to convert the Irish to Christianity. Let’s explore his efforts and the challenges he faced.

1. Preaching and Converting the Irish

St. Patrick traveled throughout Ireland, preaching the Gospel and converting many people. He used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity, which became a popular symbol of St. Patrick’s Day.

2. Establishing Churches and Schools

St. Patrick established churches, monasteries, and schools across Ireland. These institutions played a crucial role in spreading Christianity and literacy throughout the country.

3. Challenges and Persecution

St. Patrick faced numerous challenges during his mission. He was often imprisoned by local chieftains, but he managed to escape each time. Despite these hardships, he remained dedicated to his mission.

The Path to Sainthood

St. Patrick’s dedication to his mission and the impact of his work set him on the path to sainthood. Let’s explore this journey.

1. Death and Veneration

St. Patrick is believed to have died on March 17, around 461 AD. After his death, he was quickly venerated as a saint by the local church due to his missionary work and the many miracles attributed to him.

2. Canonization

In the early centuries of the church, canonization was a local affair, and there wasn’t a formal process as there is today. St. Patrick, like many early saints, was proclaimed a saint by the local church and the people he served, rather than by the Pope.

3. Legacy

St. Patrick’s legacy lives on in the many churches he founded, the faith he spread, and the stories of his life and work. His feast day, March 17, is celebrated as a religious and cultural holiday in Ireland and by people of Irish descent around the world.

Legends and Miracles Associated with St. Patrick

St. Patrick’s life and work are surrounded by numerous legends and miracles that have added to his mystique.

1. Driving the Snakes Out of Ireland

One of the most famous legends associated with St. Patrick is that he drove all the snakes out of Ireland. However, this is likely a metaphor for his efforts to convert the Irish to Christianity, as there is no evidence that snakes ever existed in Ireland.

2. The Shamrock

St. Patrick is said to have used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to the Irish. This is why the shamrock is a common symbol associated with St. Patrick’s Day.

3. Miracles

Numerous miracles are attributed to St. Patrick, including healing the sick and raising the dead. These stories have contributed to his veneration as a saint.

St. Patrick’s Day and Modern Culture

St. Patrick’s Day has had a significant impact on modern culture, particularly in countries with large Irish diasporas. Let’s explore this influence.

1. Promotion of Irish Culture

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have played a crucial role in promoting Irish culture around the world. The holiday provides an opportunity for people to learn about Irish history, folklore, music, and cuisine.

2. Community and Unity

St. Patrick’s Day parades and festivals often bring communities together, fostering a sense of unity and shared heritage. These events can also promote inclusivity by inviting people of all backgrounds to join the celebrations.

3. Economic Impact

St. Patrick’s Day has a substantial economic impact, particularly in cities that host large parades and festivals. These events can attract tourists, boosting local businesses and contributing to the economy.

4. Influence on Popular Culture

St. Patrick’s Day has influenced popular culture in various ways. From movies and songs to clothing and food, the holiday’s themes and symbols are widely recognized and celebrated.

Canonization in the Catholic Church

The process of canonization, or declaring someone a saint, in the Catholic Church is a complex one. Let’s explore this process and how it has evolved over time.

Early Saints

In the early centuries of the Church, saints were declared by popular acclaim. This was often done soon after a person’s death, as was the case with St. Patrick. There was no formal process for canonization.

Formalization of the Process

Over time, the Church began to formalize the process to ensure consistency and rigor. Today, the process is overseen by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, a department of the Vatican.

Steps to Sainthood

The modern process of canonization involves several steps:

  1. Servant of God: The process begins at the diocesan level. A bishop investigates the candidate’s life and writings to determine whether they lived their virtues to a heroic degree. If the candidate passes this stage, they are called a Servant of God.
  2. Venerable: The Congregation for the Causes of Saints can choose to affirm the bishop’s findings, and the Pope then declares the person Venerable.
  3. Blessed: To be beatified and become Blessed, a miracle needs to be attributed to prayers made to the individual after their death.
  4. Saint: Canonization requires a second miracle after beatification, though the Pope can waive these requirements. Canonization does not “make” a person a saint; it recognizes what God has already done.

Though St. Patrick was declared a saint long before this process was established, his life of virtue, his impact on the Church, and the miracles attributed to him fit the mold of what the Church looks for in a saint.


St. Patrick’s journey from a kidnapped slave to the patron saint of Ireland is a remarkable story of faith, perseverance, and dedication. His missionary work laid the foundation for Christianity in Ireland, and his teachings continue to influence millions around the world.


How did St. Patrick become a saint?

St. Patrick was declared a saint by popular acclaim soon after his death. This was before the formal process of canonization was established by the Catholic Church.

What miracles are attributed to St. Patrick?

Numerous miracles are attributed to St. Patrick, including healing the sick and raising the dead.

How is St. Patrick’s Day celebrated?

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with parades, wearing green, enjoying Irish food and music, and for some, attending church services.

What is St. Patrick’s legacy?

St. Patrick’s legacy lies in his missionary work in Ireland, the spread of Christianity, and the cultural celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.