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The story of St Patrick the patron saint of Ireland… from Wales

17 Mar 2024 2 minute read
Saint Patrick and his birthplace, Banwen in the Dulais Valley (Credit: Wikipedia)

Owen Williams

In 387 AD, a saint was born in Banwen, high in Wales’ Dulais Valley.

He would become the Celtic world’s most iconic figurehead. Every March, he is celebrated in towns and cities across the world.

To his adopted Irish home and kin, he is known simply as Saint Patrick.

Six years a slave

Born Maewyn Succat (Maewyn: Welsh for devoted friend; Succat: Pagan for warlike), in Bannavem Taberniae (now Banwen), the teenage Patrick (or Padraig) was captured and sold into slavery with “many thousands of people” by a group of Irish marauders that raided his family estate.

Six years a slave, Patrick lived an isolated existence as a shepherd.

The then Ireland was a dangerous, pagan place. Divided into some 100 self-contained Celtic kingdoms.

Those who moved between became known as “grey dogs” and were often taken captive, relinquishing their rights.

Escaping his captors, a dream told Patrick it was time to leave Ireland. Returning home to Wales, he is said to have trained as a priest at Côr Tewdws in Llantwit Major, Britain’s oldest centre of learning.

Once ordained as a priest, he returned to Ireland as a missionary.

Patrick was a powerful, charismatic figure who attracted a large following, moving freely among Ireland’s kingdoms.

Celtic Cross at St Hywyn’s Church, Aberdaron, Gwynedd, Wales (Credit: Wiki Commons)

Familiar with the Irish language and culture, he adapted Celtic Paganism into his lessons of Christianity, rather than attempting to eradicate native beliefs.

He used bonfires to celebrate Easter, since the Irish were used to honouring their gods with fire.

The Celtic cross

Saint Patrick also superimposed a sun, a powerful native symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross.

Patrick’s mission in Ireland lasted approximately 30 years.

It is said that he died in 461 AD, on 17 March, now commemorated as St. Patrick’s Day.

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Riki
Riki
23 days ago

Real question is why Ireland are treated so specially in America, when their connection and influence pales in comparison to our connection to America. The answer is that the majority of Irelands special connection to America was artificially created in the early 20th century when they became independent. Perfect example of how you are treated when you fight for your god given rights of self determination. Something we are yet to realise or care about here in Wales. We have become reliant on Westminster abuse of power.

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