From St. Patrick himself in the mid-fifth century we have two writings. The Confession is a kind of autobiography. He tells us that when he was 16 he was kidnapped from his father's villa in Briton and sold as a slave in Ireland. Solitude became the occasion for prayer:
"After I came to Ireland--every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed--the love of God and His awe came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was moved so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many in the night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountains; and I used to get up for prayer before daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no harm, and there was no sloth in me--as I now see, because the Spirit within me was then fervent"