St. Patrick is synonymous with Ireland. However he was not born in Ireland. He was born in Britain around the year AD 387 in a Christian family. His father was a deacon, his grandfather a priest. From his writings (Confessions of St. Patrick) it seems that Patrick’s life as a young man did not actually centre around God!
His life changed when at sixteen years old, he was snatched by a band of pirates and thieves and taken to Ireland where he was sold as a slave. For six years, he worked watching pigs, sheep and cattle, having just enough food to live, resting in small, cold huts. The people around him did not believe in God but worshipped trees and stones. It was then that Patrick opened his mind and heart to God. He started to pray. He knew that in spite of his suffering God loved him.
Then Patrick found the opportunity to escape. He travelled to Britain and France where he stayed in a monastery, deepening his relationship with God in prayer and study before becoming a priest.
In a visionary dream, Patrick heard voices calling him to go back to Ireland. With great courage, he returned to Ireland as a Bishop. His mission was to convert Ireland to Christianity. This was an immense challenge because the Irish practised pagan religions and believed in magic and evil spirits.
Patrick never lost heart. He preached everywhere and to everybody including the king. After a time he had help, as men and women started to follow him, becoming priests and nuns who set up schools and monasteries. Patrick had fulfilled God’s plan for him. He is the patron Saint of Ireland.