|Stained glass window in|
Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, CA
The legends come from hagiographies or saint biographies passed down through the ages written about St. Patrick, not with the goal of historical accuracy, but as a spiritual guide in the form of Celtic myths used to teach the Irish Celts about God by using their own language and culture. Patrick (Padraic in Irish) excelled in this style of teaching and converting. Patrick wrote two letters that survived as copies of copies for a millennium and a half -- the Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus and Confession.
Patrick was born into the landowning aristocracy of Roman Britain. In fact his name in Latin, Patricius, was the name of the ruling group of Rome from its inception.
His grandfather, Potitus, was a priest who lived during the reign of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman Emperor, as well as during the lifetime of St. Nicholas of Myra in the East. Priests were allowed to marry in early Christianity before the separation of churches. Potitus most likely became a priest as a political move up in the social hierarchy.
Patrick's father, Calpornius, took holy orders as a deacon to obtain a tax exemption available to wealthy Romans. He was also a Decurion or city councilor who collected imperial taxes. Decurions had a special social ranking and Patrick was expected to inherit the role.