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Even Google have joined in with today’s remembrance of Maewyn Succat, the 5th century Briton who converted much of Ireland to Christianity. It was a mission whose somewhat unpromising roots lay in his kidnapping, aged 16, by pirates who sold him into Irish slavery. Having escaped at the age of 22 (thanks to a tip from God), he returned home, studied religious matters diligently and passionately, and eventually returned to Ireland with the Pope’s backing and an evangelical mission he discharged with great effectiveness for almost 30 years.

St Patrick, as he is better known, is a much-loved saint—not least…

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