Saint Patrick, "The Apostle of Ireland", is celebrated for bringing
Christianity to Ireland. He was born about 373 A.D., probably somewhere along
the west coast of Britain. It was a time of tumult: the hordes of Goths and
barbarians from Northern Europe began hammering at the door of Rome. Rome
summoned its soldiers home from Britain. This was the signal for Irish
raiders to harass the well-stocked towns of the Romans in Britain.
At the age of 16, Patrick was carried off into captivity by one of these raiders and was sold as a slave to a chieftain named Milchu in Dalriada, a territory of the present county of Antrim in Ireland. He spent six years tending to his master's flocks, when God started to speak to him in dreams and visions. He believed his sufferings were a punishment for his careless life. He escaped (after voices in one of his visions told him where he could find a getaway ship) and went to France, where he became a priest and later a bishop.
But then St. Patrick had a dream, and he dreamed that the Irish were calling him back to Ireland to tell them about God. When he was about 60 years old, St. Patrick travelled to Ireland to spread the Christian gospel. One legend says that he met a chieftain of one of the tribes, who tried to kill Patrick. Patrick converted Dichu (the chieftain) after he was unable to move his arm until he became friendly to Patrick.
Patrick and his disciples preached and converted thousands and began building churches all over the country. Kings, their families, and entire kingdoms converted to Christianity when hearing Patrick's message. This work of faith and labour of love made Ireland afterwards "The Isle of Saints."
He used the shamrock (a three-leafed plant) as a metaphor to explain the
concept of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Legend has it that Saint
Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland -- that they all went into the
sea and drowned. There are some writings of St. Patrick, but legend and fact