Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Breastplate of St Patrick

I realize that there are some Pagan Un-friendly lines in this prayer, but I present it in its entirety with the understanding that if I were to use it, it would be changed slightly.

Happy St Patrick's day

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.

5 comments:

Tracy said...

A few adjustments here and there and it would make a lovely Pagan prayer!

Brother Christopher said...

question:

Why is it called "The Breastplate"? I have seen that used in a few other places (i think) and I never quite understood where it came from.

perruche-verte said...

Brother Christopher, it's a prayer for protection. A breastplate is a piece of armor that is tied on to the body before battle, hence the lines "I bind to myself..."

This is a beautiful prayer although it's hard to be sure about the significance of some of the lines. Most people think that Ireland converted to Christianity gradually and relatively peacefully, and preserved a lot of old beliefs and practices alongside the new ones.

perruche-verte said...

More thoughts:

A lot of people find the words "Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids" objectionable, and infer from this that St. Patrick was a misogynist who violently opposed the "Old Religion".

Of course, there's little evidence of a unified "Old Religion" as such: pre-Christian Celtic spirituality seems to have been quite diverse and localized, and it's not clear that a division between "religion" and the rest of life really existed.

I submit that this prayer seeks protection against the spells of women, smiths and Druids simply because in the old Celtic culture, they are spiritually powerful people, not because of any particular antipathy on the author's part.

In the Táin Bó Cúailnge, we see Druids actively engaged in hostile magic work against the hero Cú Chulainn. During most of its history, Ireland was divided up into small kingdoms which often fought one another. It's quite likely that Druids took part on both sides of such conflicts on behalf of their patron kings.

St. Patrick lived in violent times, and this prayer calls for the protection which no doubt was urgently needed by many, Pagan or Christian. It also goes by the name "The Deer's Cry". Deer are peaceful prey animals much sought by hunters, which gives us a sense of the urgency with which this prayer must have been chanted.

IanC said...

The easiest way to show you my Pagaized version of the Lorica of Patrick was to post it on my own blog. Have a look if you like, at:
http://intothemound.blogspot.com/2010/03/druids-breastplate.html
This isn't the only Lorica prayer in Gaelic lore - maybe not even in continental church lore, though I'm not sure about that. Obviously it's a powerful self-protection and empowerment charm, filled with words of power and detailed invocation.