Saint Patrick’s Day
March 17 is not all about leprechauns, shamrocks and green beer. This is a day to honor and pray to Saint Patrick, an influential saint who brought Christianity to the little country of Ireland 1,500 years ago. Not many facts are known about the life of St. Patrick. He was a Roman Briton born around 415 AD. When he was about 16, while he was tending his sheep, some Irish raiders captured him and made him a slave. He eventually was able to escape and return to Britain. There, he heard the call to return and bring Christianity to Ireland. He was ordained a priest, consecrated a bishop and came back to Ireland around 435 AD.
Many legends are associated around Saint Patrick: how he drove the snakes out of Ireland, and the use of the shamrock to teach the mystery of the Trinity. Whether or not the legends are true, Saint Patrick succeeded in bringing Catholicism to Ireland, and, in time, the whole country converted from their pagan gods to the one true God. Although a small country, Ireland has played a large role in saving and bringing Christianity throughout the world.
Saint Patrick’s Breast Plate Prayer
The most inspiring piece of Saint Patrick’s lore is the beautiful prayer called “Breast Plate” (Lorica). It is a morning prayer in early Irish. The Book of Armagh (ninth century) ascribes its authorship to Saint Patrick. For many centuries now, millions of faithful have used it with devotion. Here are some passages of this famous prayer in a traditional English 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 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 lead me . . . God’s host to secure me, Against the snares of demons, Against the seductions of vices, Against the hosts of nature, Against everyone who meditates injury to me . . . 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 heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me, Christ in every eye that sees me . . .