Saint Patrick’s Day is tomorrow! But who exactly WAS Saint Patrick? And why are shamrocks a symbol of this day?
St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity’s most widely known figures. But for all of his prevalence in culture—namely the holiday held on the day of his death that bears his name—his life remains somewhat of a mystery.
Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling. And why the shamrocks? According to St. Patrick’s Day lore, Patrick used the three leaves of a shamrock to explain the holy trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
St. Patrick was born in Britain—not Ireland—to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D.
Although his father was a Christian deacon, it has been suggested that he probably took on the role because of tax incentives and there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family.
At the age of 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity.
Read more at The History Channel.