Life on the west coast of Britain in the 5th century was difficult and dangerous. One of the things that made it particularly difficult and dangerous was the constant raiding from Ireland. On these raids, the Irish stole animals and kidnapped men, women, and children as slaves. And on March 17th, 432, Irish pirates brought 16-year-old Saint Patrick to Ireland as a slave.
He wasn’t a saint at the time, of course. He was just a kid from a well-to-do family from Wales named Maewyn Succat. His family had a strong Christian tradition, which was not so common at the time. His father, a minor official of the Roman Empire, was a deacon. His grandfather was a priest. It wasn’t until his enslavement that he was called to Christian devotion, though.
Forced to tend sheep, young Saint Patrick grew to see his tribulations as a test of his faith. And it was a test that resulted in his faith growing stronger. During this time, he prayed constantly and had visions of pagan Ireland, asking for his help, so he decided that he would convert the pagan Irish to Christianity.
When he escaped from captivity six years later, he set about trying to make his dream come true. He got involved in the Church, eventually becoming a bishop. And he eventually went back to Ireland to spread the faith there, as he had vowed to do during his days as a slave. For his efforts, he eventually became known as Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.