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'I Am Patrick' movie fact-checks the legend

Christians around the world celebrate St. Patrick each March 17 on the holiday named for him, honoring the man credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. 

Many more enjoy the festive St. Patrick’s Day, known for its libations, parades (mostly canceled this year because of the coronavirus outbreak) and green color scheme. But few know the true pious man, incorrectly credited with deeds such as casting the snakes out of Ireland.

The new docudrama “I Am Patrick,” in theaters nationwide March 17 and 18 via Fathom Events, features “Lord of the Rings” star John Rhys-Davies reenacting moments in Patrick’s life, along with historians breaking down the legend.

“Even Irish people are beginning to forget the real story of St. Patrick and what we are celebrating on St. Patrick’s Day,” says the Rev. Billy Swan, a priest with the Diocese of Ferns, Ireland, and one of the film’s expert voices. “There are costumes, green beers and green rivers, which are a testimony to his universal appeal, But we need to go back to the real story of this man’s life.”

Here are five things you probably didn’t know about the true St. Patrick.

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Coronavirus halts St. Patrick’s Day parades: They’re off in Boston, Dublin; heavy economic impact likely

Many aspects of the actual life of St. Patrick, seen here in an undated painting, have changed through history.

Patrick was British, not Irish

The patron saint of Ireland was born to a deacon and tax collector sometime in the fifth century. He was kidnapped at age 16 by marauders and forced into slavery in Ireland. After six years, Patrick made the rare escape from slavery and eventually found his way home to his family in Britain.

Inspired by a powerful dream after he became a bishop in the Catholic Church, Patrick returned to Ireland on a dangerous missionary quest, baptizing thousands and building churches around the country he adopted as home. 

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