Was St. Patrick a Martyr?

illustration showing two Christian martyrs on fire

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By all accounts, St. Patrick died of natural causes at the ripe old age (very ripe, for the fifth century) of 74, or thereabouts. He did not die a martyr—and this in and of itself earns St. Patrick, and his adopted country of Ireland, a special place in the history books. As Thomas Cahill explains:

“Ireland is unique in religious history for being the only land into which Christianity was introduced without bloodshed. There are no Irish martyrs (at least not till Elizabeth I began to create them eleven centuries after Patrick).”

source: How the Irish Saved Civilization

And while Patrick was not a martyr, it should be noted that he was not afraid of becoming one. We know this from his own hand. To quote Patrick:

“I bore many persecutions, even chains, so that I could give up my freeborn state for the sake of others. If I be worthy, I am ready even to give up my life most willingly here and now for his name. It is [in Ireland] that I wish to spend my life until I die, if the Lord should grant it to me.”

source: The Confession of St. Patrick

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…

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