The saint who was once a slave

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 March, 2011, 12:00am


St Patrick was born in Scotland in 387 AD. When he was 16, he was kidnapped by Irish gangsters. They sold him as a slave. He had to look after his master's sheep. This gave him plenty of time to pray.

After six years, an angel told him to escape. After a very long journey, he boarded a ship for Britain, where he joined a monastery. Later he went back to Ireland to convert the pagans to Christianity. It is believed he died on March 17, 460 AD, which is why St Patrick's Day is celebrated on this day.


St Patrick's ministry lasted 60 years. He started 365 churches. A school was built next to each church. He consecrated, or appointed to divine service, more than 350 bishops.


There are no snakes in Ireland. St Patrick is thought to have driven them away. He is also known to have done other miracles.


The Irish attend mass first on St Patrick's Day. They say special prayers for missionaries throughout the world. A green rosette or a sprig of shamrock is worn. The shamrock is a three-leaf clover. Most people dress in green. Some even colour rivers green.

Alcohol and meat are not allowed during Lent. But St Patrick's Day is an exception.

The drowning of the shamrock

This is the most popular tradition at a pub. A pot is filled with alcohol. The pot is called the pota Padraig or 'Patrick's Pot'. For the last drink a piece of shamrock is put into the glass. This is covered with whiskey and thrown over the left shoulder for good luck.

St Patrick's fish

St Patrick had some roasted pork hidden for emergencies during Lent. He asked God if he should become a vegetarian. An angel appeared and told him to throw the pork into the river.

The pork changed into fish which swam away. Now roast pork is called 'Saint Patrick's fish'. It is eaten on St Patrick's Day. Now do this:

1 How long was St Patrick a slave?

a. 10 years

b. 16 years

c. six years

2 Who do the Irish say special prayers for on St Patrick's Day?

a. missionaries

b. ministers

c. monks

3 What is the colour of festival?

a. red

b. green

c. yellow