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
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
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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