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    The Patron Saint of Ireland was born into either a Scottish
    or English family in the fourth century. He was captured as
    a teenager by Niall of the Nine Hostages who was to become
    a King of all Ireland.

    He was sold into slavery in Ireland and put to work as a
    shepherd. He worked in terrible conditions for six years
    drawing comfort in the Christian faith that so many of his
    people had abandoned under Roman rule.

    Patrick had a dream that encouraged him to flee his
    captivity and to head South where a ship was to be waiting
    for him. He travelled over 200 miles from his Northern
    captivity to Wexford town where, sure enough, a ship was
    waiting to enable his escape.

    Upon arrival in England he was captured by brigands and
    returned to slavery. He escaped after two months and spent
    the next seven years travelling Europe seeking his destiny.

    During this time he furthered his education and studied
    Christianity in the Lerin Monastery in France. He returned
    to England as a priest. Again a dream greatly influenced
    him when he became convinced that the Irish people were
    calling out to him to return to the land of his servitude.

    He went to the Monastery in Auxerre where it was decided
    that a mission should be sent to Ireland. Patrick was not
    selected for this task to his great disappointment. The
    monk that was selected was called Paladius, but he died
    before he could reach Ireland and a second mission was
    decided upon.

    Patrick was made a Bishop by Pope Celestine in the year
    432 and, together with a small band of followers,
    traveled to Ireland to commence the conversion.

    Patrick confronted the most powerful man in Ireland
    Laoghaire, The High King of Tara as he knew that if he
    could gain his support that he would be safe to spread
    the word throughout Ireland. To get his attention
    Patrick and his followers lit a huge fire to mark the
    commencement of Spring. Tradition had it that no fire
    was to be lit until the Kings fire was complete, but
    Patrick defied this rule and courted the confrontation
    with the King.

    The King rushed into action and travelled with the
    intention of making war on the holy delegation. Patrick
    calmed the King and with quiet composure impressed the
    King that he had no other intention than that of
    spreading the word of the Gospel. The King accepted the
    missionary, much to the dismay of the Druids who feared
    for their own power and position in the face of this new
    threat. They commanded that he make snow fall. Patrick
    declined to do so stating that this was Gods work.
    Immediately it began to snow, only stopping when Patrick
    blessed himself.

    Still trying to convince the King of his religion Patrick
    grasped at some Shamrock growing on the ground. He
    explained that there was but one stem on the plant, but
    three branches of the leaf, representing the Belssed
    Trinity. The King was impressed with his sincerity and
    granted him permission to spread the word of his faith,
    although he did not convert to Christianity himself.

    Patrick and his followers were free to spread their faith
    throughout Ireland and did so to great effect. He drove
    paganism (symbolised by the snake) from the lands of Eireann.

    Patrick was tempted by the Devil whilst on a pilgrimage
    at Croagh Patrick. For his refusal to be tempted, God
    rewarded him with a wish. Patrick asked that the Irish
    be spared the horror of Judgement Day and that he himself
    be allowed to judge his flock. Thus, the legend that
    Ireland will disappear under a sea of water seven years
    before the final judgement, was born.

    Patrick died on March 17th in the year 461 at the age of
    76. It is not known for sure where his remains were laid
    although Downpatrick in County Down in the North of Ireland
    is thought to be his final resting place.

    His influence is still felt to this day as Nations the
    world over commemorate him on March 17th of every year.

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