St. Patrick’s Birth and Capture
Contrary to popular belief, St. Patrick was not an Ireland native. He had been born in Roman Britain sometime in the early 400’s, but when he was 16 his town was raided by Irish pirates and St. Patrick was taken prisoner and sold as a slave to a chieftain in Dál Riata. He was kept as a shepherd for six years and it was during this time that he learned the Gaelic language and developed a passion for God. According to his book The Confession, “every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed—the love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened.”
After receiving a vision telling him to go home to his own country, Patrick ran away from what was apparently a cruel master and found a ship willing to take him back to Britain on good faith. His trip home was not direct. It saw him wandering through the desert (which gave him opportunity to pray forth a miracle that saved his companions’ lives and souls) and taken captive again for a period of two months. Eventually, though, Patrick did find his way home again, was well received, and had a couple of years of rest before other visions came to him in which he heard the many voices of the Irish people calling out for him to return.
Return to Ireland
As you may imagine, he was not eager to return to the land that had held him in slavery and he resisted. But anyone who has resisted God in the past knows how persuasive He can be, and St. Patrick did finally return to Ireland. There are many legends about what happened when he arrived; the most prominent being that he was confronted by a druid chieftain who tried to kill him but was converted when God intervened on St. Patrick’s behalf.
Death and Burial
Patrick spent the next 40 years preaching in Ireland leading to the salvation of THOUSANDS of people and is known for using three-leaved clovers to explain to the trinity nature of God to the uneducated. He died on March 17, 461 and is believed to be buried in Down Cathedral.