Saint Patrick was born in Britain, of Roman stock, probably with the name Patricius Magonus Sucatus. When he was about fourteen, in the year 403, Irish raiders carried him to their own country as a slave, and there, near Ballymena in Antrim, he first learned to pray while looking after his master's herds.
The saint escaped in a ship taking dogs to Gaul and there he became a disciple of Saint Germanus of Auxerre, studying also at the monastery of Lerins. For fifteen years or so he lived abroad, but then he dreamed of Ireland and determined to return to the land of his slavery as a missionary. Saint Germanus consecrated him bishop, and he returned to Ireland in the year 432. At Tara in Math he confronted King Laoghire with the Christian Gospel and confounded the druids. He converted the king's daughters. He threw down the idol of Crom Cruach in Leitrim. The saint wrote that he daily expected to be violently killed or enslaved again. But in 444 he established his bishopric at Armagh, and with this city as his based placed the organization of the Irish church on a sure foundation.
'I bind unto myself this day the strong name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same, the three in one and one in three,'
wrote Patrick in the hymn we call 'Saint Patrick's Breastplate'.
The saint died in the year 461 at Saul on Strangford Lough, Downpartick.
Saint Patrick's Breastplate
Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
- From A Calendar of Saints,
the Lives of the Principal Saints of the Christian Year
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