The Feast Day of Saint Patrick

March 17 is the Feast Day of Saint Patrick, one of the Church’s great evangelizing saints. 

Although he is the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick was actually born in Roman Britain in the fifth century. When he was a teenager, he was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep.  It was during this time, that he discovered his own faith, finding strength through his relationship with God.

Saint Patrick’s enslavement lasted for six years until he had a dream in which he was told to escape by going by way of the coast.  He successfully made it back to Britain, but after a few years, he had a vision in which a man came to him from Ireland and gave him a letter with the heading ‘"The Voice of the Irish."  In his spiritual autobiography, the Confessio, Saint Patrick said that, at that moment, he heard the Irish people crying out, "We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us."

It led Patrick to further his education and study for the priesthood.  He would later be ordained a bishop and was appointed as successor to Saint Palladius, the first bishop of Ireland.   Saint Patrick spent the rest of his life bringing the Good News of the Gospel to the people of Ireland, which was a pagan country at the time.  He is believed to have used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity, and the shamrock remains associated with the saint and the Trinity to this day.

The prayer “Breastplate” is attributed to Saint Patrick.  It reads in part: "Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger."

Saint Patrick died on March 17, 461. He is now the patron saint of Ireland and is known as the Apostle of Ireland.

Saint Patrick and the Diocese of Portland

The feast day holds special significance in the Diocese of Portland because St. Patrick, along with St. Jean Baptiste, is a secondary patron of the Diocese of Portland, chosen because French missionaries and, later, French and Irish immigrants brought the Catholic faith to Maine and helped it take root and grow. Saint Patrick Church in Newcastle was the first church in the country named for Saint Patrick. It was dedicated by Father Jean-Louis Lefebvre de Cheverus on July 17, 1808, a year before the cornerstone was laid for Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. The original Saint Patrick Church has been in continual use longer than any other Catholic church in New England.

Note: In recognition that St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday during Lent this year, Bishop Robert Deeley is authorizing individuals who choose to eat meat on that day (i.e., a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner) to commute, that is, transfer their abstinence from meat to another day within that same week. Parishioners are able to make use of this commutation on St. Patrick’s Day for any reason, even if they are not necessarily attending a parish event that day.

Maine Celebrations

Saturday, March 11

St. John Church, Bangor

St. Paul the Apostle Parish will host a St. Patrick’s Day Irish feast on Saturday, March 11, at 5 p.m. in the hall at St. John Church on 217 York Street in Bangor. The event follows the 4 p.m. Mass. The menu will feature corned beef, ham, cabbage, potatoes, and much more, and parishioners will offer musical entertainment. Tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for kids and will be on sale after Masses on March 4-5, at the parish office through March 10, or by calling Keith at 207-735-4131.

St. Philip Church, Lyman

St. Philip Church will host a corned beef and cabbage dinner in the church hall, located on 404 Goodwins Mills Road, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults, $6 for kids, and free for those younger than six.

Friday, March 17

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Portland

Bishop Robert Deeley will celebrate Mass at 12:15 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 307 Congress Street in Portland.

Guild Hall, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Portland

All are welcome to attend a St. Patrick's Day Dinner, prepared by Maria's Ristorante, in the Guild Hall, part of the cathedral, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. (following Stations of the Cross). There is no admission, but donations are encouraged. All proceeds from the traditional Irish dinner will benefit the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and the Portland Peninsula and Island Parishes' Family Life Commission. 

St. Mary of the Visitation Church, Houlton

St. Mary of the Visitation Parish will hold its annual St. Patrick's Day Dinner in St. Anthony's Hall on Friday, March 17, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Enjoy your choice of corned beef or turkey with all the fixings and dessert. The cost is $10 for adults, $5 for students, and $25 for a family of four or more. Takeout is available.

St. Patrick Church, Newcastle

The annual St. Patrick's Day Dinner will be held at St. Patrick Church, located on 380 Academy Hill Road in Newcastle. The doors open at 5:30 p.m. and a dinner of corned beef or chicken, cabbage, side dishes, and dessert will be served at 6 p.m. The evening will feature Irish singing and dancing, as well as raffles. Tickets are $17 for adults, $10 for children 17 and under. Takeout orders are available. To purchase tickets, call 207-832-6163.

Saturday, March 18

Holy Name of Jesus Church, Machias

St. Peter the Fisherman Parish in Machias will host a St. Patrick’s Day Dinner on Saturday, March 18, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Holy Name of Jesus Parish Hall on 42 Broadway Street in Machias. Doors open at 5 p.m. The menu will feature corned beef and cabbage, soda bread, Guinness chocolate cake, and more. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids (ages 5-12), and free for kids four and under. Takeout dinners are available by visiting For more information, call 207-255-3731.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Windham

A corned beef dinner sponsored by Our Lady’s Knights of Columbus will be offered at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, located on 919 Roosevelt Trail in Windham, on Saturday, March 18, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the
church hall. The cost is $12 for adults and $6 for children under 12.

Our Lady of the Angels Church, South Berwick

A St. Patrick’s Day Irish dinner will be served after the 4 p.m. Mass on Saturday, March 18, at Our Lady of the Angels Church on 162 Agamenticus Road in South Berwick. Admission is $10 per person and the menu includes tender corned beef, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, soda bread, dessert, and beverage service. Takeout meals will also be available. For more information or to order a takeout meal, call 207-384-7006.

St. Mary Church, Wells

A St. Patrick's Day Dinner Dance will be held on Saturday, March 18, in the hall of St. Mary Church, 236 Eldridge Road, Wells. Enjoy a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner, along with ham, while listening to the music of Tom Pomeroy. The evening begins with a social from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The cost is $30 per person. Tickets must be purchased in advance with proceeds benefiting Honor Flight Maine and Mission Working Dogs. Please call 207-985-7049 or 207-651-2864. The dinner is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.

St. Maximilian Kolbe Church, Scarborough

Knights of Columbus Council 11747 will prepare a St. Patrick's Day corned beef dinner on Saturday, March 18, at St. Maximilian Kolbe Church, 150 Black Point Road in Scarborough. The menu includes corned beef, boiled vegetables, and dessert. Music will be provided by Paul Andriulli. Tickets will be available after Masses at St. Maximilian Kolbe on the weekends of March 4/5 and 11/12. You can also call Gerry Martin at 207-317-1103 or Ron Menard at 207-939-0133 or you can email [email protected]. Tickets will also be available at the door, payable by cash or check. Seating, however, is limited. The cost is $18 for adults or $25 per couple, $15 each for those age 65 or older or $28 per couple, $8 for children ages 6-16, and no charge for children aged 5 or under.

St. Pius X Church, Portland

The Knights of Columbus will hold their traditional St. Patrick's Day corned beef and cabbage dinner on Saturday, March 18, in the St. Pius X Hall, 492 Ocean Avenue in Portland. The dinner starts at 6 p.m. Two hundred tickets will be available. The price is $25 per dinner and dessert.

Sunday, March 19

Holy Redeemer Church, Bar Harbor

A St. Patrick's Day potluck lunch will be held on Sunday, March 19, at 11:15 a.m. at Holy Redeemer Church, 56 Mount Desert Street, Bar Harbor. A sign-up sheet is located in the vestibule of the church or contact Leo or Eileen at 207-288-5038.