St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity’s most widely known figures. But for all his celebrity, his life remains somewhat of a mystery. Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling and folklore.It is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century (around 389 A.D.) At the age of sixteen, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Though he had been brought up a Christian, he had never given much serious thought to his faith. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. During his captivity the fear of God grew more and more in him and in a single day he is said to have prayed as many as a hundred prayers. After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick finally escaped.While once again in Britain Saint Patrick had a vision. He saw an angel holding innumerable letters. The angel then gave him one. It contained the voice of the Irish, praying that he come back and walk among them. Convinced that he was being called by God to do God’s work, Saint Patrick, after religious studies and being ordained a priest, returned to Ireland around the year 432 A.D. to start his missionary work. Saint Patrick is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. in Ulster. But before he died, God allowed him, in spirit, to see the sacred fire of divine faith. So brightly burning were the monasteries of men and women, which spread like a network over the length, and breadth of the land.