The story of St Patrick is littered with many varying and sometime contradicting tales and fables. However, there is quite a lot of which we can ascertain as true.
The person who was to become St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales about AD 385. His given name was Maewyn and he was the son of Calpurnius, a Roman-British army officer. His roman name was Patricius, which would later become Patrick. He was growing up as naturally as other kids in Britain. However, one day a band of marauding pirates landed in south Wales and kidnapped this boy along with many others. Then they sold him into slavery in Ireland.
He remained in captivity for 6 years and during this time was when changes came to him. He dreamed of having seen God. Legend says, he was then dictated by God to escape with a getaway ship. Finally, Patrick did escape and went to Britain and then to France (or Gaul as it was known). There he joined a monastery and studied under St. Germain,
the bishop of Auxerre. He spent around 12 years in training. And when he became a bishop he dreamed that the Irish were calling him back to Ireland to tell them about God.
So he set out for Ireland with the Pope's blessings. There he converted the Gaelic Irish, who were then mostly Pagans, to Christianity. Indeed, Patrick was quite successful at winning converts. Through active preaching, he made important converts even among the royal families. And this fact upset the Celtic Druids. Patrick was arrested several times, but escaped each time. For 20 years he had travelled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches, which would aid him in his conversion. He developed a native clergy, fostered the growth of monasticism, established dioceses, and held church councils.
Many other myths surround Patrick including that he rid Ireland of snakes, despite the fact that snakes were never native to Ireland.
Patrick's mission in Ireland lasted for over 20 years. He died on March 17, AD 461.
That day has been commemorated as St. Patrick's Day ever since.
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