Janet McGee Saunders
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St. Patrick's Breastplate in Honor of Trinity Sunday

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St. Patrick, by virtue of his purported use of the shamrock to explain the Mystery of the Holy Trinity, has almost come to be synonymous with the Trinity.  Another legacy of the saint:  St. Patrick's Breastplate, an "Old Irish" lorica" which St. Patrick is credited with having composed.  Lorica is translated as shield or breastplate. 

 

created at: 05/23/2016

 

This long prayer has also been called the Deer's Cry.  The reason:  there is a collection of hymns kept in Dublin called the Liber Hynorum.  The document, written in 1903, includes a telling of why St. Patrick created the prayer and how he used it:

"Patrick sang this when an ambush was laid against his coming by Loegaire (the High King of Ireland and Patrick's nemesis), that he (Patrick) might not go to Tara (the seat of the High King) to sow the faith.  And then it appeared before those lying in ambush that they (Patrick and his monks) were wild deer with a fawn following them..."

The text ends thus:  "fáeth fiada a hainm".  The phrase has been translated alternately as "The Deer's Cry" or "mist of concealment."  Either way, the 'lorica" invokes God's protection".  The traditional "lorica" begins and ends with an invocation of the Trinity and, because of that, is often included in Trinity Sunday celebrations.

It has been said that the influence for its composition was Ephesians 6:10-17:  "God's shield to protect me ... from snares of devils." 

The original is long, but beautiful and inspires reflection and introspection.  It is included below ... for now ... or when you have the time to sit ... and reflect.

For a shorter, Catholic version, sung by Angelina, see:  https://www.youtube.com/embed/zJx_Lu4PymE

The popular, Catholic lyrics:

     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 see 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 host to secure me –

    

     Against snares of devils,

     Against temptations and vices,

     Against inclinations of nature,

     Against everyone who shall wish me

     Ill, afar and anear,

     Alone and in a crowd...

 

     Christ, be 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 where I lie,

     Christ where I  sit,

     Christ where I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

     Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,

     Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

 

     Salvation is of the Lord.

     Salvation is of the Lord.

     Salvation is of the Christ.

     May your salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.

    

The Original "Long" Version:

     I bind to myself today

     The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:

     I believe the Trinity in the Unity

     The Creator of the Universe.

 

     I bind to myself today

     The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,

     The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,

     The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,

     The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

    

     I bind to myself today

     The virtue of the love of seraphim,

     In the obedience of angels,

     In the hope of resurrection unto reward,

     In prayers of Patriarchs,

     In predictions of Prophets,

     In preaching of Apostles,

     In faith of Confessors,

     In purity of holy Virgins,

     In deeds of righteous men.

 

     I bind to myself today

     The power of Heaven,

     The light of the sun,

     The brightness of the moon,

     The splendour of fire,

     The flashing of lightning,

     The swiftness of wind,

     The depth of sea,

     The stability of earth,

     The compactness of rocks.

 

     I bind to myself today

     God's Power to guide me,

     God's Might to uphold me,

     God's Wisdom to teach me,

     God's Eye to watch over me,

     God's Ear to hear me,

     God's Word to give me speech,

     God's Hand to guide me,

     God's Way to lie before me,

     God's Shield to shelter me,

     God's Host to secure me,

     Against the snares of demons,

     Against the seductions of vices,

     Against the lusts of nature,

     Against everyone who meditates injury to me,

     Whether far or near,

     Whether few or with many.

 

     I invoke today all these virtues

     Against every hostile merciless power

     Which may assail my body and my soul,

     Against the incantations of false prophets,

     Against the black laws of heathenism,

     Against the false laws of heresy,

     Against the deceits of idolatry,

     Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,

    Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

     Christ, protect me today

     Against every poison, against burning,

     Against drowning, against death-wound,

     That I may receive abundant reward.

 

     Christ with me, Christ before me,

     Christ behind me, Christ within me,

     Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

     Christ at my right, Christ at my left,

     Christ in the fort,

     Christ in the chariot seat,

     Christ in the poop [deck],

     Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

     Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,

     Christ in every eye that sees me,

     Christ in every ear that hears me.

 

     I bind to myself today

     The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,

     I believe the Trinity in the Unity

     The Creator of the Universe.

Whichever version you "bind to" ... may you always remember St. Patrick's Breastplate as a powerful and poetical prayer for invoking the Good Lord's Protection ... and not just on St. Patrick's Day or Trinity Sunday!

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