Mysterious Ways

Who Was the Real Saint Patrick?

I thought I knew about Saint Patrick. The guy who banished snakes from Ireland, then converted everyone to Christianity by noting that the three-leaf clover was a perfect symbol of the Trinity. He performed many miracles. Because of that, there’s a big parade down New York’s Fifth Avenue on March 17, and all the bars serve green beer, right?

Well, not quite.

The real Saint Patrick—or Patricius, to use his given name—proved far more interesting. I learned about him in my friend Tom Cahill’s bestselling book How the Irish Saved Civilization. Contrary to myth, Patrick did not rid Ireland of snakes—the Emerald

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