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James Barclay wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Why was St. Patrick never canonized?
  • Seeing he was never canonized, why is he the patron Saint of Ireland or even called, St. Patrick?


  { Why was St. Patrick never canonized, and since he wasn't, why is he the patron Saint of Ireland? }

Eric replied:


The current process of canonization did not come into play until the first part of this millennium. Not even the Apostles were canonized; it was just understood that they were saints. In the first millennium, when Saint Patrick lived, saints were declared by popular acclamation.

Something like this happened when Pope Saint John Paul the Great died (2005): people demanded that he be canonized immediately with cries of Santo Subito. They recognized his holiness right away and advocated for his sainthood so, no one in St Patrick's age was canonized according to the process that we use today.


Bob replied:


Thanks for the question. It is likely that there wasn't a formal canonization due to the antiquity of St. Patrick. Many saints were accepted because of their prominence and acceptance by the vast majority of Christians and therefore there was never any doubt. Modern standards and practices just didn't exist.

  • Would we have needed a formal investigation for St. Paul?

It just wasn't done.

If you want more history on Patrick here is a link to a good resource:


Bob Kirby

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