Thanks for this essay from James & Barbara Rose of American Christian History Institute:
Patrick, according to his “Confession,” was a Briton, from southern Scotland. He was captured at age 16, and carried off by pirates as a slave to Ireland where he was a shepherd for five years. There he reflected upon his Christian training at home and came to a personal faith in Jesus Christ. He was a man of prayer sometimes praying as many as 100 times a day in snow, frost and rain. He also learned the Irish dialect which providentially prepared him to witness to Ireland.
One night, Patrick heard a voice in his sleep, saying: “See, your ship is ready.” (Confession) After five years, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, he escaped to Britain. While back home, he became a thorough student of the Scriptures. He had a vision of a man reading letters and a voice saying: “We pray thee, holy youth, to come and walk again amongst us as before” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed., vol. 21, p. 933). This call, similar to Paul’s “Macedonian call” (Acts 16:9-10), was a clear vision for Patrick to carry the Gospel to Ireland.
Ireland with its pagan Druid, idol worship and human sacrifices was hungry for the Gospel. Patrick’s first went to the place where he had been held captive to “County Antrim in the northwest . . . While he failed to win his former slave master, he was successful in converting the master’s household.” (Truth Triumphant, p. 85)
For 30 years, Patrick evangelized most of Ireland, baptizing thousands and establishing 365 churches. He had an intimate acquaintance with the Old and New Testaments as noted in his “Confessions.” Wherever a group of people became converted to Christianity, Patrick requested that the local chieftain conform the civil law to the Ten Commandments. He compiled Liber ex Moisi (Book of Laws of Moses which contain the Ten Commandments, other Old Testament laws and a manuscript version of the four Gospels).
He was a Bible-reading, Bible-believing, Bible-preaching missionary. He recognized no other authority than that of the word of God. Patrick was never canonized and never went to Rome. He founded Bible schools which later became colleges. “The Christianity which Patrick founded became self-supporting in Ireland. From his missionary labors, the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ went forward from Ireland into the “Dark Ages” of Iona, Scotland, Britain and Central Europe in the 6th and 7th centuries. In 565 A.D., Columba introduced the Bible and Ten Commandments as the foundation of Scottish law. Scottish missionaries brought the Bible and Ten Commandments down the northeast coast of England.” (George C. Rogers, St. Patrick More than a Legend? March-April 2005 Issue, Posted/Updated: 2006-09-14 16:03:04 The Real Truth Magazine)
(From Patrick’s Confession) “Who am I, O Lord, and to what hast Thou called me, Thou who didst assist me with such divine power that today I constantly exalt and magnify Thy name among the heathens. . . not only in good days but also in tribulations?’ So indeed I must accept with equanimity whatever befalls me, be it good or evil, and always give thanks to God, who taught me to trust in Him always without hesitation, and who must have heard my prayer so that I, however ignorant I was, in the last days dared to undertake such a holy and wonderful work — thus imitating somehow those who, as the Lord once foretold, would preach His Gospel for a testimony to all nations before the end of the world. So we have seen it, and so it has been fulfilled: indeed, we are witnesses that the Gospel has been preached unto those parts beyond which there lives nobody.