A Happy St. Patrick’s Day

WELL HELL’S BELLS! Now here they are, dragging religion into holidays, and everything! What’s this world coming to?

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The Lorica (Breastplate) of Saint Patrick, also known as The Deer’s Cry, is an ancient devotional prayer, his call to arms and call to faith, his personal testament, a prayer for protection, and of the great and ringing faith of the Evangelist To The Irish.


A Roman Lorica Segmentata (Segmented Breastplate), c. AD100

Possibly a Romano-Scot, the teen Patricius was likely captured and enslaved from somewhere around Dumbarton, and after his escape home, later went to France and Italy to study Christianity. He felt a call to return to Ireland to evangelize the very people who had made him a slave. His family included Christian clergy, Roman legionaries, and his maternal uncle may have been St. Martin of Tours.

St Patrick – The Apostle of Ireland

Various relics– including the pastoral staff (the Bachall Iosa) belonging to St. Patrick were preserved and honoured for over 1100 years, but were burnt in Dublin as ‘dangerous Popish trash’ in 1538 by the Protestant English. Surviving are his bell, part of his jaw, and a tooth, amongst other things & places associated with him.

Though the following rendering of The Lorica is clear and poetic, I prefer the musical setting and the hymn lyrics based on the prayer by Irishwoman C.F. Alexander. I had this hymn sung as part of my ordination service into the Anglican priesthood, in 1992, on Holy Cross Day.

Can I Get An Amen?

1639 years along, The Breastplate prayer still has the power to lift my heart up unto the Lord, give me goosebumps, and inspire me to fight the good fight. I hope it does the same for you.

ALMIGHTY GOD, who in thy providence didst choose thy servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of thee: Grant us so to walk in that light, that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen.

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Lorica of Saint Patrick

I Arise Today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendour of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

St. Patrick (ca. AD 377)

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