Did St. Patrick Have Siblings?

illustration of dozens of saints commemorating All Saints Day

Irish Myths is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission.

In his Confession, Patrick asserts that he has “many thousands of… brothers and sisters.” Of course, in this instance, he’s referring to “the children whom [he] baptized in the Lord.”

But what about biological siblings?

While Patrick doesn’t mention them himself, tradition tells us that he had two sisters, Darerca and Lupita (sometimes Lupida). What’s more, it’s asserted that both of these sisters were abducted and brought to Ireland by the same raiding party that took Patrick. To quote Seumas MacManus:

“[A]t the age of sixteen he was taken captive, with his two sisters, Darerca and Lupida. It was a raid made by the men who sailed on a fleet of King Niall…They were borne to Ireland and his sisters said to have been placed in Muirthemne (Louth) while he was sold to an Antrim chieftain named Miliue, who set him herding his flocks in the valley of Braid, around the foot of the mountain, Sliab Mis.”

source: The Story of the Irish Race: A Popular History of Ireland

According to tradition, the siblings were eventually reunited in Ireland. And while Patrick’s sisters did not gain same the level of notoriety that their brother did, they did both become saints: St. Darerca and St. Lupita. (How’s that for some sibling rivalry?)

In the case of St. Darerca, she went on to have seventeen (or more) children—Patrick’s nieces and nephews—many of whom also became saints. These include daughters St. Eiche of Kilglass and St. Lalloc of Senlis, and sons St. Reat, St. Nenn, St. Aedh, St. Mel of Ardagh, St. Rioc of Inisboffin, St. Muinis of Forgney, St. Maelchu, St. Sechnall of Dunshaughlin, St. Nectan of Killunche and Fennor, St. Auxilius of Killossey, St. Diarmaid of Druim-corcortri, St. Crummin of Lecua, St. Miduu, St. Carantoc, and St. Maceaith.

Not to rain on this parade of saints, but I should reiterate at this point that the historicity of Patrick’s sisters (and his nieces and nephews) is questionable at best. Even the Catholic Encyclopedia admits that when it comes to St. Darerca, it’s hard to be sure what’s real and what’s fantasy:

Much obscurity attaches to her history, and it is not easy to disentangle the actual facts of her history from the network of legend which medieval writers interwove with her acts.

source: “St. Darerca” (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia)

Want to learn more about Saint Patrick? Check out…

Saint Patrick in Your Pocket

Separate man from myth, fact from folklore, in this small but mighty pocket guide dedicated to uncovering lesser-known facts about Ireland’s most beloved patron saint. Armed with answers to these 20 tantalizing questions, you’ll be the smartest reveler in the room at your next Saint Patrick’s Day party. Learn more…

More of an audio-visual learner?

Check out the IrishMyths YouTube channel:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: