St. Patrick (originally Patricius) was a British, Roman, Christian, missionary in Ireland during the second half of the 5th century. He was taken to Ireland as a slave from Roman controlled Britain. In Ireland he toiled as a shepherd-slave for six years before escaping. He trained for ordination and returned to Ireland as a missionary to the people who had once been his captors.
With the Irish – even with the kings – he succeeded beyond measure. Within his lifetime or soon after his death, the Irish slave trade came to a halt, and other forms of violence, such as murder, and intertribal warfare, decreased. In reforming Irish sexual mores, he was rather less successful, though he established indigenous monasteries and convents, whose inmates by their way of life reminded the Irish that the virtues of lifelong faithfulness, courage, and generosity were actually attainable by ordinary human beings and that the sword was not the only instrument for structering a society…. Patrick is beyond dispute: the first human being in the history of the world to speak out unequivocally against slavery. Nor will any voice as strong as his be heard again until the seventeenth century.*
Today, we celebrate Missionary Patrick.
*Cahill, Thomas. How The Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe. New York: Anchor Books, A Division of Random House, Inc., 1995, p. 110-114.