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St. Patrick

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Reading about St. Patrick (c.390-461), Patron Saint of Ireland in my Oxford Dictionary of Saints (3rd ed. 1992) with my morning coffee, it seems that this guy caused much controversy and was quite the rabble rouser! I think his green beer drinking compatriots would appreciate that

One of the few sources of information regarding his life is from his own autobiography or Confessio. He was actually born in Kilpatrick, Scotland to a Roman family of high rank (his mother Conchessa was a relative of St. Martin of Tours, his father, Calphurnius, a deacon). Patrick’s first foray to Ireland was as a captive of marauding Irish pirates who enslaved him for six years. He tended their sheep while fervently praying for salvation (he hadn’t been very religious before this time) and is said to have been visited by an angel who urged him to finally flee his captors and seek a life in the service of Christ.

A stranger in a strange land now, through many trials Patrick struggled to make the 200 mile journey home. He then set to studying the Latin Bible and joined the mission of St. Germain. Around this time, Palladius was acting as Rome’s “first bishop of the Irish who believe in Christ”. c.435 Patrick became his successor and made his way back to Ireland. Of course the Druids protested but he was intent on finding a seat for his mission—but not before first travelling to where his once cruel master lived to bestow forgiveness and blessings on him.

Patrick’s see was located in Armagh, County Ulster, Northern Ireland, but he travelled far and wide to preach, ever the penitent, sleeping on rocks and wearing hair shirts. He worked hard ‘to free the country of Druidism’ for he was fervently against their ‘demonaic leaders’ and pagan idolatry. He stood many trials with them, preaching and praying for their salvation, and armed with his faith fought many battles with the magicians and sorcerers. It is said that Providence sealed their fate on Easter Sunday 433 when Arch Druid Lochru was flung to his death on the rocks while Patrick was again praying to free the country of the Druids’ influence.

The historical Patrick is much more attractive than the Patrick of legend, the thaumaturge who expelled snakes from Ireland [a popular theme in portraits of him] or ‘explained’ the Trinity by reference to the shamrock”…. however, “The exaggerated popular view of him” (ibid, p. 380) is that he single-handedly converted the entire country of Ireland and he is its only True Apostle. But the fact is he had many followers and fellow ministers who for generations carried on his work.

The cult of St. Patrick spread swiftly after his death, said to be on the 17 of March. In the early 1700’s North American Irish immigrants began to celebrate his feast day. Sooooooo, Slainte! Happy Lá 'le Pádraig, Lá Fhéile Pádraig, St. Patty’s Day, or St. Paddy’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.

—St. Patrick’s Breast Plate





  1. Neo_Sephiroth's Avatar
    Wow, Logos. It's always awesome to hear a history lesson in your blogs.

    No, really. I ain't trying to be sarcastic or anything, I like hearing about these holidays and 'em old school stuff. Cool, cool...
  2. B-Mental's Avatar
    Wonderful post Logos (as usual). I'm grateful for the time you put into it. I'm half Irish, and have never drank green beer. Also I celebrate St. Patrick's Month.
  3. 's Avatar
    thanks for the info Logos! I learned a lot I especially liked the verse at the end.
  4. 's Avatar
    aw thanks you guys

    dramas-I got that verse at the Catholic Encyclopedia . It's supposedly his prayer in victory over Paganism

    B-Mental-I think I've had green beer exactly once I prefer Irish whiskey

    Neo_Sephiroth-well, now and then I like to write something just for 'fun', apart from the much drier stuff I usually write
  5. Niamh's Avatar
    seeing as i'm only new at this blog thing i just noticed this now.
    It's a very nice way to let people know about the patron saint of my country Logos. And you are right. he didnt single handedly convert the whole island. The evidence of that rests with all the other saints we have in Ireland. We are called the isle of Saints and Scholars for nothing!
  6. GrayFoxDown's Avatar
    Logos, if you're still interested in St. Patrick next March 17 (maybe even now) you might consider this: THE LIFE of ST. PATRICK by J.B. Bury, first published in 1905 (my copy is a Book-of-the-Month Club Edition, 1999). Bury was an Irish classical scholar and historian; while his writing is (I think) often tedious and complex, the overall work is very comprehensive. His biography of St. Patrick is considered the most authoritative (or so I was told at N.Y.U. ,in the olden days, when I first read it). Regards,