Today millions across the United States will celebrate St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, on the day he is thought to have died. March 17 is a natonial holiday for the Irish and a day of pride for Americans of Irish descent. But Saint Patrick was not Irish and his name was not Patrick.
Born during the late fourth century to a noble family in Britain, then a province of the dying Roman Empire, Patricius is thought to have been kidnapped as a teen and taken to Ireland. According to historic accounts, he served as a slave for six years before escaping and returning to his family in Britain.
But, after having several visions that he believed were inspired by God, Patricius decided to return to Ireland and guide its pagan citizens to Christianity as a missionary. Two letters written in Latin by him survive to this day, although the date and location of his death remain a mystery.