The dates of Patrick’s life cannot be fixed with certainty, but there is general agreement that he was active as a missionary in Ireland during the fifth century.
In Britain, Patrick was living a comfortable life as the son of a government official. Despite being part of the Roman Catholic Church, his faith didn’t mean anything to him until he was kidnapped by pirates at the age of 16 and enslaved in Ireland. For six years Patrick was forced to work as a shepherd and was driven to the brink of starvation. It was there that he turned to his Christian faith. He managed to escape and was reunited with his family in Britain, only to have a prophetic dream calling him to take Christianity back to the land of his captivity. Against the wishes of his family and the Church, Patrick returned as a missionary bishop to Ireland and converted thousands to Christianity.
St. Patrick may be the most popular, yet least-known, figure in Christian history. Each year revelers hold parties and parades to celebrate his day, yet the average person likely has no idea who Patrick of Ireland truly was. After returning home, Patrick shocked his contemporaries by voluntarily returning to the place of his enslavement in order to bring the gospel message to the Irish people.