(flourished 5th century; feast day March 17) Patron saint of Ireland. Born in Britain of a Romanized family, he was captured at age 16 by Irish raiders and carried into slavery in Ireland. He spent six years as a herdsman before escaping from his master and being reunited with his family in Britain. Called in a dream to bring Christianity to the Irish, he returned to Ireland and journeyed far and wide, baptizing chiefs and kings and converting whole clans. One popular legend says that he explained the notion of the Holy Trinity using the shamrock, now the national flower of Ireland. He is also said to have rid Ireland of snakes.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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