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Saint of the Month: Saint Patrick

Updated: Mar 31

March 17 is Saint Patrick’s Day, a feast day celebrated worldwide. Patrick has become emblematic of Ireland, because he is credited with establishing Christianity there, not because he was Irish. And most modern-day St. Patrick's Day celebration activities honor Ireland, not the saint.

Patrick was a 5th-century Christian Roman whose family lived in Britain. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and sold into slavery in Ireland. After six years, he escaped and returned home, entering the Church. Patrick returned to Ireland as a determined missionary. He is now Ireland’s patron saint and its most popular, alongside Brigid, with whom he may be venerated.

Saint Patrick is most known for expelling the snakes from Ireland. Many like to point out that Ireland has no native snakes, implying that the story of St. Patrick expelling the snakes is just a myth. But that’s not the case. Snakes were emblems of healing and wisdom throughout the Celtic world and Pagan mystery traditions. When Patrick banished the snakes, he was banishing the snake people, those for whom snakes symbolized healing, not temptation to sin. Among the many Celtic female deities associated with snakes are Damona, Rosmerta, and Morrigan, whose dead son was discovered to have three snakes in his heart.

As St. Patrick banished the snakes from Ireland, he is now forever associated with them. His image is a literal depiction of what was once a metaphor – Saint Patrick accompanied by snakes. Traditional veneration of St. Patrick follows Church guidelines. He is honored as a great Christian. Unconventional veneration takes on many forms. Snake lovers sometimes collect his image just for the snakes. Snakes can represent Paganism, but they can also symbolize enemies, treachery, and a ‘snake in the grass.’ In the traditions of the Spiritual Church of New Orleans, Patrick is invoked to subdue and banish enemies.

His strong association with the color green officially refers to his patronage of Ireland, but green is also the color most associated with money and prosperity. Therefore, Patrick is also invoked for blessings of prosperity, luck, and abundance.

Although St. Patrick is universally associated with the color green, he was originally associated with a shade of dark blue. His sacred plants are the clove and shamrock. His sacred animal is the snake.

To create an altar for St. Patrick decorate it with the color green, living green plants, and emblems of prosperity.

St. Patrick allegedly introduced the still to Ireland, so offer him Irish whiskey, Irish ale, or beer. Other favored offerings include:

  • Green candles

  • Cross-shaped candles

  • Images of snakes, especially green ones

  • Cabbage leaves separated to resemble cash

  • Wearing green in his honor


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  1. Encyclopedia of Mystics, Saints & Sages by Judika Illes

  2. Daily Magic: Spells and Rituals for Making the Whole Year Magical by Judika Illes

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