Go, Patrick,” a voice echoed through his sleep, “thy ship is prepared! Arise and go!” Patrick arose and went with a prayer on his lips. He slipped unseen from his master’s house and fled down the western shore where he saw a ship disembarking. “Thy ship departs, Patrick,” the voice cried again in his ears. Patrick plunged into the sea and caught a rope tossed to him by one of the sailors. After being kidnapped from his coastal home in Scotland to serve as a slave of a Druid priest in Ireland for six years, Patrick, the son of a Roman deacon, was free again. It was not the first time that Patrick would spurn pagan tyranny in his life. In years to come, he would end their oppression not by fleeing, but by bringing them freedom, arising armed and protected by a great, bright Breastplate bound to his soul.
After escaping from Ireland, the young Saint Patrick traveled to a monastery in France where he met with his uncle, St. Martin of Tours. He began studying for the priesthood and was ordained under the patronage of St. Germain. After years of missionary work, Patrick was chosen to defend the Faith against the Pelagian heresy in Britain. It was then that Patrick had another life-changing dream. “Patrick,” voices called out in Gaelic, “walk once more with us.” On the recommendation of Germain, Pope St. Celestine charged Patrick to sail back to the land of his captors as a bishop and gather the Irish into the fold of God’s Church—a task abandoned by many missionaries for fear of fierce chieftains and eerie Druids.
Setting foot once again on Irish soil, Patrick and his companions were met by armed guards. But the bishop had arms of his own to guard him. He boldly announced in their native tongue that he, a runaway slave, had returned to pay ransom to his master and offer him the freedom of the Truth. While news of the stranger spread, Patrick learned of the great spring gathering of the Druid priests near the castle of the High King Laoghire in Tara. On the night of March 26—the night before Easter Sunday, 433—all the fires in the kingdom were to be put out until the Druids lit the New Year Fire. This year’s burning was regarded with special importance since the oracles had foretold that an enemy would land in Erin.
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