Patrick was born in Berniae. Since his father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest, Patrick had a very religious upbringing. But when he was about sixteen, he was out working in his father’s field when Irish militia raided the land. Patrick was kidnapped and carried off as a slave to Ireland. There, he worked as a herdsman, remaining a captive for six years. During that time he writes that his faith grew and that he prayed daily. After six years he finally escaped by stowing away on a ship, traveling more than two-hundred miles, and finally returning home. When he was of age, he followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, eventually becoming a Bishop in the church. But in the latter half of his life, Patrick felt called to become a missionary—to go back to the land in which he had been a slave and share the message of the Gospel. In latter part of the fifth century, just four hundred years or so after the death of Christ, Patrick became instrumental in bringing Christianity to Ireland.
Part of his success came through the simplicity of his message. Where others had struggled to explain the concept of the Trinity, Patrick relied on a simple illustration. Legend says that he used the shamrock, or three-leaf clover, which was a symbol of national pride in Ireland at the time, to explain the nature of the Triune God of the Bible. Each leaf is separate and distinct, yet part of a whole. It’s just one clover, yet with three individual leaves. By making that simple comparison, countless Irish men and women were able to accept the basic concept of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Saint Patrick’s Day is supposed to be a celebration of the life of Saint Patrick himself, who died on March 17, as well as a celebration of the birth of Christianity in Ireland.
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