Here are 10 fascinating certainties from the uncertain days when St. Patrick wandered the earth in search of the truth.
1. Patrick was taken when he was sixteen years old by a gang of Irish raiders who were ravaging his family's estate. They took him to Ireland and imprisoned him for six years.
2. He worked as a shepherd in the woods, away from people. He found peace in his religion, alone and terrified.
3. Throughout his captivity, Patrick gained a thorough understanding of the Irish language and culture. After six years in captivity, Patrick heard a voice commanding him to go to a distant port where a ship would be waiting to take him to Britain.
4. Patrick was caught again upon his return to the United Kingdom and served 60 days in jail in Tours, France. Patrick was introduced to French monasticism during his short confinement in France. Near the end of his second captivity, Patrick had a vision of Victoricus, who assigned him the job of preaching Christianity to Ireland.
5. Patrick declares in the Confession that his life behind bars was critical to his spiritual development. He contends that the Lord showed compassion on his youth and naivete, allowing him to repent and come to Christianity. Throughout his captivity, he worked as a shepherd and strengthened his relationship with God via prayer, which eventually resulted in his conversion to Christianity.
"We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us." – The Voice of the Irish, a divine message by Victoricus.
6. Patrick's status in Ireland as a foreigner was tough. He was cut off from conventional family, fosterage, and affinity bonds due to his refusal to accept gifts from rulers. He was legally unprotected, and he alleges that he was mistreated, robbed of all he has, and chained, perhaps awaiting death.
7. According to history, Patrick taught the Irish about the Holy Trinity by using the shamrock, a three-leafed plant, as a symbol for the Christian doctrine of three distinct entities in one God (Father, Son & Holy Spirits).
8. There is no indication that Ireland's post-glacial history included snakes. "Since there has never been any indication of snakes in Ireland, there was nothing for St. Patrick to expel," explains naturalist Nigel Monaghan, curator of natural history at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, who has conducted significant research into Irish fossil collections and archives.
9. It is supposed that he walked back to Ireland from his parent's residence with an ash wood walking stick or staff. He placed this stick into the ground everywhere he preached, and at the site now known as Aspatria (ash of Patrick), the message took so long to reach the inhabitants that by the time he was ready to continue, the stick had grown roots.
10. Today, St. Patrick's Day is a globally recognised festival of Irish culture commemorated on March 17 and known for its massive parades. In New York City, two million people assemble for a six-hour march along Fifth Avenue with dancers, musicians, and bagpipers. In Temple Bar, Dublin's multi-day St. Patrick's Day celebration encompasses four days of traditional music and rabble-rousing. And, Chicago's river is dyed green.
“Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine”
“We live in each other’s shelter”