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Saint Patrick's Lorica

Saint Patrick's own Lorica (or Breastplate), also called The Cry of the Deer (in Irish, Fáed Fíada) is written in Irish and Latin; there are variations aplenty.
A few have the line referring to Jordan although there seems to be no such original reference (whatever 'original' may be).
The Old (all right an old) tradition has it, that Saint Patrick and his companion missionaries were to travel to the court of King Laoghhaire. Along the way, waiting in ambush, were druid or druid henchmen who intended to attack and kill Saint Patrick and all his followers.
As Patrick and his companions walked, they chanted the Lorica. When they passed the would-be attackers, they appeared as a doe and twenty fawns - hence the title.

Did Saint Patrick actually write the Lorica? There, apparently, is no way for us to know - definitively. As Thomas Cahill so well puts it "Characteristics of the language would assign it to the seventh, or even to the eighth, century. On the other hand, it is Patrician1 to the core...The earliest expression of European vernacular poetry, it is, in attitude, the work of a Christian druid, a man of both faith and magic."

1
Cahill means 'of, or related to, Saint Patrick'.

So, decide for yourself. We think Cahill guides us well when he says: "If Patrick did not write it (at least in its current form), it surely takes its inspiration from him."

Fáed Fíada - The Cry of the Deer

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.

As moving as the lorica is, it leaves me thinking to lighten up the mood a bit. So, toward that end here is a poetical explanation for the date (March 17th) we choose to celebrate the good saint himself.

St. Patrick's Birthday
On the eighth day of March it was, some people say,
That Saint Patrick at midnight first saw the day.
While others declare 'twas the ninth he was born,
And 'twas all a mistake between midnight and morn;
For mistakes will occur in a hurry and shock,
and some blam'd the babby—and some blam'd the clock—
Till with all their cross questions sure no one could know
If the child was too fast—or the clock was too slow.

Now the first faction fight in old Ireland, they say,
Was all on account of Saint Patrick's birthday.
Some fought for the eighth—for the ninth more would die,
And who wouldn't see right, sure they blacken'd his eye!
At last both the factions so positive grew,
That each kept a birthday, so Pat then had two.
Till Father Mulcahy, who confessed them their sins,
Said, "Ye can't have two birthdays, unless ye be twins."

Says he, "Don't be fightin' for eight or for nine,
Don't be always dividin'—but sometimes combine;
Combine eight with nine, and seventeen is the mark,
So let that be his birthday." "Amen," says the clerk.
"If he wasn't a twins, sure our hist'ry will show
That, at least, he is worth any two saints that we know!"
Then they all drowned the shamrock—which completed their bliss,
And we keep up the practice from that day to this.
(Edited and adapted from Dick's Irish Dialect Recitations, Wm. B. Dick, Editor, New York, Dick & Fitzgerald, Publisher, 1879)


For more Poetry Click the Poetry Index.

 

Wed, Feb 27, 2013
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Celtic Bookmark

Elegant bookmark is made of silver over pewter. It measures 3" x 1". When in use, the pretty Celtic design sticks out of your book. Or choose Trinity Knot or Celtic Heart.

Click for Celtic Book mark.


Irish Love Poems
edited by A. Norman Jeffares

All the poems in this anthology are neatly placed into categories such as "Intimations, "Flirtation and 'Courtship', 'Praise and Devotion', 'Youth, Age and Memory,' and many more. Included are works by Swift, Goldsmith, Yeats, Beckett, Wilde, Synge, and Seamus Heaney, as well as offerings from a young generation of emerging poets and several by our all-time favorite, "anonymous!"
Click for Irish Love Poems.


No matter who does the collecting, the works stand on their own but this is an excellent compilation and well worth adding to your library.
Click for Collected Yeats.


1000 Years of Irish Poetry: The Gaelic and Anglo Irish Poets from Pagan Times to the Present
by Kathleen Hoagland

Interested in Irish Poetry?Here's the easy way to collect them all (well, almost all, anyway).
Malachy McCourt says in his introduction, "With the republication of this book, the Irish recover under their roof of stars all the great poets and writers who have been falsely claimed by the saxon crown and its minions - even our reprobates."
Amazon states this is out of stock. They still have used copies for almost nothing (except shipping - chuckle). If you would like a new edition, it was available at Powell's. We can't promise it's still there. Click here for Powell's 1000 Years.
Click here for used at Amazon.


 

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