In Christian art, St. Patrick is usually represented in the act of banishing serpents, and holding a shamrock leaf in his hand. The explanation of this is probably that by his preaching of the Gospel he put an end to the serpent worship which was wide-spread in Ireland before his time. The shamrock is the symbol which he used to explain the meaning of the Blessed Trinity, the Three in One, to the simple countrymen. Although his life is so closely associated with Ireland, St. Patrick was not Irish by birth. He was the son of a Roman official at Dumbarton, in Scotland. In boyhood he was taken captive by hostile Picts and sold as a slave to an Irish lord. He grew up speaking the Irish language, but disliking the Irish people, and at the age of twenty-two he escaped and fled to France, where he studied for the Church and was ordained a priest. Feeling a call to convert the pagan Irish he returned to the green isle of his unhappy youth, and began his mission. His fervour and enthusiasm were successful in converting, first Ulster, and then the rest of Ireland. Many churches and abbeys, and the cathedral of Armagh, were built during his lifetime. St. Patrick never wearied in his quest of souls to save. His travels took him over not only Ireland, but also Brittany, Cornwall and Wales. When he died in 493, at the age of 120, his bones were laid to rest in the same grave with St. Bridget and St. Columba.