Patrick, who became the patron saint of Ireland, was born into a Roman ruling family in 390 AD Britain. At the age of 14 he was enslaved by a gang of Irish raiders and spent the next 6 years as a shepherd on a mountain top in County Armagh. A vision of ships persuaded him to try to escape. He later studied for the priesthood, was made a bishop, and returned to Ireland as a missionary in 432 AD. Many Celtic kings were converted with all of their people. Many legends are told of that time; he banished all snakes (a symbol of evil) from Ireland. The painting uses many other Christian symbols: the shamrock (the Trinity), the harp, peacocks and angels. The conversion of Ireland to Christianity by St. Patrick did not destroy the original culture or cause a single martyrdom; a situation unknown in the rest of Europe.