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However, few really know what they are celebrating or why the holiday is so important, particularly in the Americas. Saint Patrick is a saint of the Catholic Church, and his holy day is the day of his death, and subsequent entrance to heaven, rather than the day of his physical birth. Later, the harp was used on Irish flags and Irish coats of arms.The following 10 facts may help you to better enjoy this popular holiday. After spending most of his adult life converting the pagans of Ireland to Christianity, St. The harp was also used as a symbol of the Irish people during their long struggle for freedom. An estimated 34 million Americans have Irish ancestry.The Irish were culturally unique, Catholic, and because of deplorable conditions in Ireland, flooded into the US in large numbers.

Patrick's parents were Roman citizens living in modern-day England, or more precisely in Scotland or Wales (scholars cannot agree on which). By that time, most Romans were Christians and the Christian religion was spreading rapidly across Europe. Obviously, the pagan rulers of Ireland found Patrick to be convincing because they quickly converted to Christianity. Today, the country is also referred to as the "Emerald Isle." 4. The shamrock is a popular Irish symbol, but it is not the symbol of Ireland.

Patrick wasn't Irish, and he wasn't born in Ireland. He spent several years in Ireland herding sheep and learning about the people there. He made his way to a monastery in England where he spent 12 years growing closer to God. Many claim the shamrock represents faith, hope, and love, or any number of other things but it was actually used by Patrick to teach the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and how three things, the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit could be separate entities, yet one in the same. Despite that, scholars suggest that the term "snakes" may be figurative and refer to pagan religious beliefs and practices rather than reptiles or amphibians. Green was associated with the country later, presumably because of the greenness of the countryside, which is so because Ireland receives plentiful rainfall.

At the age of 16, Patrick had the misfortune of being kidnapped by Irish raiders who took him away and sold him as a slave. Patrick used the shamrock to preach about the trinity. In reality, this probably did not occur, as there is no evidence that snakes have ever existed in Ireland, the climate being too cool for them to thrive. Since that time, and possibly before, blue has been a popular color to represent the country on flags, coats-of-arms, and even sports jerseys.

Patrick drove all the snakes, or in some translations, "toads," out of Ireland. King Henry VIII used the Irish harp in gold on a blue flag to represent the country.

Patrick of Ireland is one of the world's most popular saints.

He was born in Roman Britain and when he was fourteen or so, he was captured by Irish pirates during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep.

I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn.

I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain." Patrick's captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast.

Great numbers of Irish immigrants filled factories, served as railroad laborers --and even joined the military, sometimes immediately upon stepping foot on American soil!

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