Poem #3: St. Patrick’s Breastplate by St. Patrick, c.400

This powerful poem/prayer of blessing and invocation is supposed to have been composed by St. Patrick himself both in Latin and in Gaelic. It has at least three titles: The Lorica, The Deer’s Cry, and St. Patrick’s Breastplate. This version is one translation that I found here.

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.
Salvation is of Christ. May Thy Salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.

I thought this musical version was lovely, both the singer and the scenery:

St. Patrick himself, the poet/missionary to whom the poem is attributed, was an interesting character. Read more about him at Wikipedia or at History.com.

6 thoughts on “Poem #3: St. Patrick’s Breastplate by St. Patrick, c.400

  1. You’re three for three for poetry I wish I’d thought of for my own list. Thanks for doing this!

  2. I love this prayer-poem. I heard it first only a couple of weeks ago.

  3. This is a favourite prayer of mine.

  4. Slapping my forehead a bit…I love this prayer/poem, and simply didn’t think to put it on my list. When I teach the history of the church in the British Isles, I almost always include this in my students’ reading list. I love to read/pray/sing it.

  5. I played for a wedding last summer where the bride came down to the music of St. Patrick’s Breastplate. Not the version you have up, but it was beautiful. A soloist sang until the “Christ within me” section, which is when the bride made her entrance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *