|King Laoghaire then
asked St Patrick to tell them of the religion he wished
Ireland to accept. He explained that, unlike the Gaels,
the Christians worshipped only one God who had three
personalities - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The druids fell about laughing at what they believed was
a ridiculous concept.
Patrick, in desperation, prayed to God for inspiration. Casting his eyes about the ground he focused on a patch of shamrock. He plucked it from the ground and held it in his hands. "Here," he said to his audience. "There is one stem but there are three leaves on it. So it is with the Blessed Trinity. There is one God but three persons stemming from the same divinity."
King Laoghaire, impressed by Patrick's devotion and rhetoric, gave him his blessing to preach the Gospel throughout Ireland. He himself refused to accept Christianity believing it would be a betrayal of his ancestors, who had entrusted him with the land and its traditions. He wouldn't stop Patrick from preaching his religion but he wouldn't actively try and promote Patrick's message.
The patronage of King Laoghaire allowed Patrick freedom to travel the Land. Flocks of people came to him and converted to the religion of Christianity. Slowly but surely Ireland became a Christian land. St Patrick is known for driving the snakes from Ireland. However, snakes were at that time a symbol of paganism, and it was really paganism he drove out.
At the age of 50, Patrick made a pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick. While he was in devotion, the devil came to him and tried to tempt him - he resisted. Eventually God sent an angel to reward Patrick for his courage in denying the devil. Patrick was granted a request from Our Lord. He asked that the Irish should keep the Christian faith for all time and that they should be spared the horrors of the Day of Judgement.
When that time came, Patrick could judge his beloved Irish himself. It is from this time that the legend that Ireland will be drowned under a sea of water seven years before the Last Day originates.
In 441 Patrick returned to Rome to pay homage to the new Pope, Leo I. He was given relics from Saints Peter and Paul which, on his return to Ireland, he placed in his new chapel at the Metropolitan See in Armagh.
By the spring of 461, at the age of 76, St Patrick was nearing his end. He died on March 17th after a long and fruitful life. The clans of Ireland began to bicker over who should receive the honour of having his final resting place on their land. To avoid this sacrilegious end to his life his friends secreted away his body to bury in a secret grave. Many believe this to be in Downpatrick, Co. Down.