Patrick was born around 385 in Scotland, probably Kilpatrick. As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. During his captivity, he turned to God in prayer. Patrick’s captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britain, where he reunited with his family.
He had a dream in which the people of Ireland were calling out to him “We beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once more.” He began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, whom he had studied under for years. Later, Patrick was ordained a Bishop, and was sent to take the Gospel to Ireland. He arrived in Ireland March 25, 433, at Slane. One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain).
Patrick preached the Gospel throughout Ireland for forty years, converting many. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, travelling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461. He died at Saul, where he had built the first church.
Why a Shamrock?
Patrick used the Shamrock to explain the Trinity, and has been associated with him and the Irish since that time.
In His Footsteps
Patrick was a humble, pious, gentle man, whose love and total devotion to and trust in God should be a shining example to each of us. He feared nothing, not even death, so complete was his trust in God, and of the importance of his mission.