Although Patrick was only 16 years old when taken into slavery, he was able to escape six years later and return home. He recounts a “dream” (vision) he had, in which an angel of the Lord came in the night, and told him of a ship that was leaving Ireland, and how he might be able to take it by traveling south, near Dublin.
By this time, Patrick, who was often cold and hungry, had spent six years in virtual isolation away from people. He was lonely and had turned to prayer and, like his father, had prayed non-stop asking God to deliver him. His prayers were finally heard and God had designs on him. In fact, it would be fair to say, that Patrick had become somewhat of a mystic by this stage, so intense was his prayer life and his constant communication with God.
He arrived home to the delight of his parents and was reunited with his family and friends. He later began to realize that he had a vocation to the priesthood or some ministry of prayer in the Church. At this time the Church was already established somewhat in Ireland. There was already an Archbishop of Armagh by the name of Pallidus.
Ireland was not ecclesiastically independent at the time but came under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Arles in France, which is connected to the great Mediterranean Sea by the Rhone River and from there by a direct link to Rome.
Patrick often thought about the Irish and prayed for their conversion to the faith. During his time in Ireland, even though he was a slave, he had developed a profound relationship with God and a great ability to pray.
Later, as he said himself in his “Confessions,” he was tormented by the “Voice of the Irish,” whom he had heard calling in the night: “Come back to us Patrick.”