The Lorica of Patrick


celtic-shamrock-800pxPatrick is said to have composed this hymn- prayer in the year 433. It was during the reign of the Druid Loegaire mac Neill, King of Tara  High King of Ireland. King Loegaire is described as “a great king, fierce and pagan, emperor of the barbarians”. Remember, Saint Patrick was a missionary and later the first Bishop of Ireland known as the “Apostle of Ireland.” He is the one that brought the faith to Ireland. The Druid King Loegaire is one who Patrick did spiritual and theological battle with, along with some mortal altercations too.

The Lorica of Patrick is a prayer or incantation for protection, and these type prayers were common among the (pagan) Celts of the day. The prayer protects the sayer against a multitude of evils. The term lorica refers to a knight’s body armor. That Latin word, lorica, translates breastplate. Another name for the prayer is “St. Patrick’s Breastplate.” A quote from a source unknown to me eloquently says “when any person shall recite it daily with pious meditation on God, demons shall not dare to face him, it shall be a protection to him against all poison and envy, it shall be a guard to him against sudden death, it shall be a lorica for his soul after his decease.”

Patrick and his monks sang this prayer in anticipation of an ambush Loegaire set for them. Loegaire battled Patrick from spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the short form of the story. The druids were antagonistic to Patrick’s preaching of Christ, and that story is long. Anyway: as his druids hid in ambush, they saw Patrick and his men pass by simply as a gentile deer followed by twenty fawns. Patrick’s Lorica did not fail. St. Patrick and his men were saved from that ambush. The third name for the prayer is “The Deer’s Cry.” Here it is:

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’s birth 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 the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The 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 shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose 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 witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an 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 when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

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