If he were alive today, St. Patrick would probably find it all a bit hard to believe. Ireland, the country where he's the patron saint, may be a relatively small place, but more than a million people are expected to take part in a whole host of celebratory events organised there in his honour this week. And that doesn't count all the millions of others across the planet who will be claiming Irish ancestry, donning green, and raising a glass to the fifth-century bishop.
The celebrations are already under way in all the towns and villages in Ireland; people are sporting the green high-crowned leprechaun's hats, and shamrocks - the three-leafed clover the Saint used to explain the mystery of the Trinity - have sprouted in the most unexpected places. There are generous helpings of Irish stew to be had, and plenty of good beer and whisky - after all, legend has it that it was St Patrick himself who taught the process of distillation to the Irish.