Many people know St. Patrick's Day as a time to let their hair down and participate in the often rowdy revelry that has become synonymous with the holiday. Parades and loud music as well as flowing drinks make Patty's Day a favorite for people of all ethnic backgrounds. But revelers might be surprised to know that the holiday's namesake was an interesting figure whose impact on the world can still be felt today.
* Though he is forever linked to the Emerald Isle, Saint Patrick was actually born in England, and his initial introduction to Ireland was anything but pleasant. That's because St. Patrick was captured by pirates as a child and brought to Ireland, where he spent six years in slavery. After escaping captivity, he eventually returned to Ireland as a missionary.
* Saint Patrick's work as a Christian missionary incorporated some pagan beliefs to which many natives of Ireland had previously subscribed. He combined those beliefs with the Christian sacrament, and the Celtic cross traces its origins to this combination of pagan beliefs and Christianity.
* Despite growing up in a family with strong ties to organized religion, Saint Patrick himself was not raised in a particularly religious household. Though his grandfather was a member of the clergy and his mother was a close relative of St. Martin of Tours, Saint Patrick's childhood home was not especially religious nor was it one that placed a strong emphasis on education. In fact, Saint Patrick admitted later in life that his lack of formal education had long been a source of embarrassment for him.
* While in captivity, Saint Patrick tended sheep under a high priest of Druidism, a Pagan sect that had considerable influence over Ireland at the time.Despite that, Saint Patrick became deeply devoted to Christianity during his captivity, when he became determined to free the Irish from Druidism.
* After fleeing captivity, Saint Patrick said that the idea to flee came to him in a dream in which a voice promised him that, if he fled, he would safely find his way home to England. So he convinced sailors to let him board their ship. This was a ship those on board would soon abandon, eventually landing in France, where they wandered 200 miles in 28 days. But true to his dream, Saint Patrick was eventually reunited with his family in England.
* Despite his determination to free the Irish from Druidism, Saint Patrick was initially met with much resistance from Irish natives. But his persistence would eventually pay off, as he convinced a growing number of Pagan Druids that they were worshiping idols under a belief system that was ensuring their captivity and not their salvation.