St. Patrick of Ireland

pic of a Celtic crossToday is the feast of Patrick of Ireland, the father of Celtic Christianity. I’ve long drawn inspiration from Patrick, whose strength and courage have inspired me, and whose panentheistic faith helped shape my own. Besides being an apostle, Patrick has the distinction of being the first person in Church history to argue for the abolition of slavery.

Below are two versions of the stunning poem known variously as “The Breastplate” or “Lorica” or “The Deer’s Cry,” which is ascribed to him:

This is the traditional text:

The Breastplate of St. Patrick

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

I arise today through the strength of Christ with His Baptism,
through the strength of His Crucifixion with His Burial
through the strength of His Resurrection with 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 the service of the Archangels,
in hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
in prayers of Patriarchs, in predictions of Prophets,
in preachings of Apostles, in faiths of Confessors,
in innocence of Holy Virgins, in deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through the strength of Heaven:
light of Sun, brilliance of Moon, splendour of Fire,
speed of Lightning, swiftness of Wind, depth of Sea,
stability of Earth, firmness of 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 host to secure me:
against snares of devils, against temptations of vices,
against inclinations of nature, against everyone who
shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a crowd.

I summon today all these powers between me (and these evils):
against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose
my body and my soul,
against incantations of false prophets,
against black laws of heathenry,
against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry,
against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
against every knowledge that endangers man’s body and soul.

Christ to protect me today
against poison, against burning, against drowning,
against wounding, so that there may come abundance of reward.

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 in breadth, Christ in length, Christ in height,
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.

I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
through belief in the Threeness,
through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.
Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of the Lord.

It has been beautifully shaped into this hymn by Cecil F. Alexander:

I Bind Unto Myself Today

I bind unto myself today the strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same, the Three in One, and One in Three.

I bind this day to me forever, by power of faith, Christ’s Incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan River; His death on the cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spiced tomb; His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom: I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power of the great love of the Cherubim;
The sweet “Well done” in judgement; the service of the Seraphim;
Confessors’ faith, apostles’ word, the patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls;
All good deed done unto the Lord, And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today the virtues of the starlit heav’n,
The glorious sun’s life-giving ray; the whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free; the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks;
The stable earth; the deep salt sea, around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today the power of God to hold and lead.
His eye to watch, his might to stay, His ear to hearken to my need;
The wisdom of my God to teach, His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech, His heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name, the strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same, the Three in One and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation; Eternal father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation, salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Amen.

Also see Patrick’s autobiography, The Confession of St. Patrick, and the Wikipedia article on Patrick.