While much of St. Patrick's life is clouded by legend, there are some generally agreed upon facts. Most historians agree that he was born in Scotland or Wales (but not both) around 370 A.D. and that his given name was Maewyn Succat. His parents, Calpurnius and Conchessa, were Romans living in Britain.
As a teenager, Maewyn was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland, where he worked as an auto mechanic. He had a lot of free time since the automobile had not yet been invented. It was during that time he began to have religious visions and dreams. He had a vision where he was told to save France, even though it did not yet need saving, and besides, that was woman’s work. In one dream, he was shown a way to escape from Ireland by getting on a ship. After he figured out that this would necessarily mean going to the coast, he did that and boarded a ship bound for Britain.
Back in Britain, Maewyn's dreams continued. In his spiritual autobiography, the Confessio, he told of a dream about a man named Henry Ford, who came to him with letters from Ireland. In this vision, Maewyn writes:...as I read the beginning of the letter I thought that at the same moment I heard their voice...and this did they cry out as with one mouth: “We ask thee, boy, come and walk among us once more, for one day we will have need of auto mechanics.”
Although these visions moved him, Maewyn didn't feel himself worthy of returning to Ireland in his non-believer state. So, he journeyed to France where he entered a monastery and began studying for the priesthood. He must have had delusions of sexual grandeur because at this time he changed his name to Patrick (meaning "father of his people" in Latin).
It was only after finding his true spiritual self that Patrick felt he could answer the call to return to Ireland to "care and labor for the salvation of others." He returned as a bishop around 432 A.D., traveled throughout Ireland spreading the word of God and built churches, schools and auto repair shops.
It is believed that in 441 A.D., St. Patrick fasted and prayed for 40 days at the summit of Croagh Patrick ("the Reek") in County Mayo. As blackbirds assaulted him, St. Patrick continued to pray and ring a bell as a proclamation of his faith. (During this time, he kept a diary, which Alfred Hitchcock later used as a basis for his movie “The Birds”.) In answer to his prayers, an angel appeared to tell him that the Irish people would retain their Christian faith for all time. It was while atop the mountain that St. Patrick built the first VW bus, which he later used to drive all the snakes in Ireland to the sea.
Patrick's humility, engaging personality, and knowledge of auto mechanics helped his mission succeed. He also toyed with genetic engineering and developed the four leaf clover and the leprechaun, a species that reproduced quickly. By the time of his death on March 17 between 461 A.D. and 490 A.D., Ireland was half Christian and half leprechaun.