Next Monday, most of the Western world will probably drink Guinness and kiss people wearing green.
Why does St. Patrick get all the credit? He wasn't even Irish!
Born in Scotland, Patrick was abducted as a teenager and sold into slavery. He herded sheep in Ireland until he escaped, aged 20. He became a priest and eventually was ordained Bishop, and returned to Ireland. Legend claims he rid the land of snakes, but what people probably meant was St. Patrick worked to get rid of Druids and Pagans. He died on March 17th, 461 in Saul, Downpatrick. (1)
Two of the many Irish people he converted were parents to Brigid. She was friendly with St. Patrick, and took the veil "in her youth" (2). St. Brigid went on to found a convent (the first in Ireland, where she served as Abbess), several monasteries, and an art school.
Not to be confused with St. Brigit of Sweden or Brigid the Goddess, St. Brigid of Kildare is not only patron of Ireland, but also: babies; blacksmiths; boatmen; cattle; chicken farmers; children whose parents are not married; children with abusive fathers; children born into abusive unions; dairymaids; dairy workers; fugitives; infants; Ireland; mariners; midwives; milk maids; nuns; poets; poor; poultry farmers; poultry raisers; printing presses; sailors; scholars; travellers; watermen (3)
She died on February 1st, 525, and is buried in Downpatrick, together with St. Patrick and St. Columba.
Picture of Inishowen, Ireland, by David Johnston, on National Geographic