In the fifth century, a teenager from a wealthy British Christian family, was kidnapped by Irish raiders. Now you'd think this would forever put him off of Ireland, but when he escaped from his captors some six years later by stowing away on a boat bound for England, he realized his lonely years as a shepherd had allowed him to get back in touch with a religious faith he had taken for granted. He dreamed that he should return to Ireland as a missionary and made good on that after many years of study.
Pagan chiefs, however, were not as glad to see him return, but he took a leaf from St. Paul's book in his letter to the Athenians by not criticizing their pagan ways and instead lauding them on their faith, but perhaps they might direct their religious energies toward the one true God? He encouraged changing the names of their sacred watering places and wells to names like Holy Well or Mary's Well, instead of their pagan names. He famously demonstrated the Trinity by showing the example of the shamrock: God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost were represented by each of these three leaves, but they all made up the whole, the entire shamrock at the same time. By converting the Irish, Patrick, who became Bishop of Ireland, helped to spread Christianity to western Europe by inspiring Irish lads to become monks and mssionaries. Did he chase the snakes out of Ireland? Likely his is a metaphor with the snakes probably standing in for sin. He became patron saint of Ireland by the 8th century and his feast day is March 17, which may or may not be his death day as that information is lost to history.
Next time: St. Paul's Cathedral