New Orleans' Irish Channel
Day is celebrated on March 17 to honor Patrick, Ireland's
patron saint. Almost 1500 years ago the patron saint and
national hero of Ireland was born to a Gaelic family who
had migrated to Britain. The child was called Succat,
Since Britain was part of the Roman Empire and had become Christian, the child was baptized and called Patricius, meaning "noble." For 16 years, Patrick lived a normal life as the son of a prosperous landowner and magistrate.
Captured and forced into slavery, Patrick spent 6 years herding sheep. What is known is that he escaped. What is also known is that after a period of time, Patrick returned to Ireland to do missionary work.
On his return to Ireland, Patrick was a missionary who worked for 40 years in Ireland, preaching, baptizing, and establishing churches, schools, and colleges. History reports that he used shamrock leaves to explain the meaning of the Trinity.
It is also stated that he drove snakes from Ireland, banishing the venomous serpents by beating his drum. It is sometimes reported St. Patrick died on March 17, 493 after bringing the Christian faith to Ireland.
The first Irish celebrations on the date of St. Patrick's death were noisy affairs. As the Irish emigrated around the world, they took the St. Pat's celebration with them, and today parades are held in some of the unlikeliest places you can imagine.
The Irish heritage has had a profound influence on our nation. Nine of the people who signed our Declaration of Independence were of Irish origin, and nineteen Presidents of the United States proudly claim Irish heritage -- including our first President, George Washington.
This page was last updated March 12, 2006.