HE IS celebrated by millions of people worldwide as Ireland’s patron saint on March 17 – but Saint Patrick is technically not a saint at all.
The British-born Irish bishop was never canonised by the Catholic Church, meaning he is not a saint by today's standards.
Canonisation is the final step in the process of sainthood carried out by the church – but St Patrick pre-dated the canonisation ceremonies which are a requirement today for sainthood.
This means, in effect, that St Patrick is a saint only in name.
To become a saint, the Catholic Church requires that a prospective candidate has proven their holiness during their lifetime.
This generally takes the form of two miracles – then they are beatified before their canonisation.
When a person is beatified, the Pope acknowledges their official ascension to the Kingdom of Heaven.
They must have performed one miracle – and they are canonised after a second miracle is acknowledged, making them an official saint.
Canonisation in the Roman Catholic Church was not introduced until after St Patrick’s death in the 5th century – meaning he was never officially granted sainthood.
But St Patrick was dubbed a saint shortly after his death for his widespread work in bringing Christianity to Ireland.