Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. St Patrick's Day is March 17.
St Patrick is traditionally associated with the Shamrock plant, which he used to explain the concept of the Trinity.
St Patrick's value doesn't really come from the historical details but from the inspiration of a man who returned to the country where he had been a child slave, in order to bring the message of Christ.
Facts in brief
* St Patrick really existed
* Taken to Ireland as a slave at age 16
* Escaped after 6 years
* Became a Christian priest, and later a Bishop
* Returned to Ireland as a missionary
* Played a major part in converting the Irish to Christianity
* Some of his writings survive, the Confessio and the Letter to Coroticus
Doubtful extra facts in brief
* Born in 387 AD in Scotland, in Kilpatrick
* alternative sources suggest he was born at Banwen in Wales
* His original name was Maewyn Succat; he became Patrick when he became a bishop
* Studied in France at the monastery of St Martin's in Tours
* Went to Ireland in 432 AD
* Died either in 461 AD, or 493 AD (unlikely)
* Taught by Saint Germaine
Patrick's early life
Patrick's family lived on a small estate near the village of Bannavem Taburniae. (This name cannot be placed on any current map of England or Wales.)
Although his father was a deacon, Patrick was not a believer:
I did not, indeed, know the true God
Enslaved by pirates
In his teens, Patrick was captured by a gang of Irish pirates and taken as a slave to Ireland. Patrick came to believe that this was a punishment for his lack of faith.
He was put to work for six years herding sheep and pigs on Slemish mountain in County Antrim. While he was a shepherd, Patrick spent much of his time praying.
I used to stay out in the forests and on the mountain and I would wake up before daylight to pray in the snow, in icy coldness, in rain, and I used to feel...