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Saint Patrick is probably one of the most famous Saints in the world but do you know his story?
Patrick was born in Britain and at the age of just 16 he was kidnapped by raiders and taken to work in a remote area of Co Antrim in Ireland. He was sold as a slave to a Chieftain called MIliucc. During this time he worked as a shepherd and was lonely and isolated. His faith became his only solace.
After 6 years, Patrick escaped and returned to Britain. One night he received a message from God urging him to return to Ireland and convert the Irish people to Christianity. He returned and went to Tara in Co Meath, the home of Irish Kings. He asked King Leary’s permission to preach to the people, to which the king agreed.
Patrick began travelling around the country spreading his message but the people found it very hard to understand the Holy Trinity. Patrick picked a piece of shamrock from the ground and explained that the plant had 3 leaves but was still one plant. This was how he explained The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit being the Holy Trinity.
In the year 441 Patrick went on a pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick which is a 764m high mountain in Co Mayo. He spent 40 days and nights on top of the mountain and it is said that this is where he encountered snakes who tried to attack him. Legend has it that he used his staff to banish the snakes from Ireland never to be seen again. Some say that the snakes are a metaphor for evil spirits but I can tell you we have had no snakes in Ireland!
Patrick died on 17th March 493 in Co. Down. Over his time in Ireland he had converted many people to Christianity and had trained many new priests. They learned how to copy and beautifully decorate the Bible and other books making paint from plants and minerals.
Patrick died in the town of Saul Co. Down which is where he had built his first church. To this day thousands of people make the pilgrimage to the summit of Croagh Patrick, often barefoot, to pay homage to our patron Saint.
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