St. Paddy’s Day: The 5th-Century Saint Behind The Boozefest


While attending graduate school in Chicago, I met up with a group of classmates early one Saturday morning for the annual celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day. My friends and I walked to the Chicago River, which had just been dyed green for the holiday. (Honestly, it’s a strange shade of green year-round).

We watched the parade, then met up with more friends – and a couple hundred other people – at an Irish pub. At one point during the festivities, the thought crossed my mind: “What does all of this have to do with a 5th-century saint?”

Don’t get the wrong idea.

My point is not to discourage traditional celebrations of St Patrick’s Day. Far from it!

If it were up to me, we would honor more saints with day-long parties.

However, if you’re single, Catholic, and hitting the pub scene tonight, maybe try fitting in a bit of St Patty’s trivia. (FYI: The subtle ways of declaring our Catholic faith are often the best received. Nobody wants to be approached by a close-talking know-it-all creepily rambling, “St Patrick was Catholic. Are you Catholic? Do you go to Mass? Want to go with me on Sunday?” Please, no.)

Here are a few points of interest to get you started:

  • St. Patrick wasn’t even Irish! He was born in Scotland, kidnapped at the age of 16 and was a slave in Ireland for six years.
  • After escaping, St. Patrick was ordained as a priest and eventually became a bishop.
  • Pope Saint Celestine I sent St. Patrick back to Ireland to convert the druids to Catholicism.
  • St. Patrick used the three leaves on a clover to help explain the Trinity.
  • He helped drive evil and demons out of Ireland but probably not actual snakes.

Whether you celebrate with green beer or a pint of Guinness (my preference), have a very happy and safe St. Patrick’s Day!



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