Friday, 17 March 2017

Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick (c. 387 - 17 March 493) was a British missionary to Ireland, credited with the spread of Christianity throughout the country, building on the work of earlier missionaries, notably Palladius.

Patrick was born to a Roman Christian family of high rank in Britain - his father being a deacon, and his grandfather a priest in the Church. When he was about 16, he was captured by raiders and sold into slavery in Ireland, where he worked as a shepherd for six years. "But after I reached Hibernia I used to pasture the flock each day and I used to pray many times a day. More and more did the Love of God, and my fear of Him and faith increase, and my spirit was moved so that in a day [I said] from one up to a hundred prayers, and in the night a like number; besides I used to stay out in the forests and on the mountain and I would wake up before daylight to pray in the snow, in icy coldness, in rain, and I used to feel neither ill nor any slothfulness, because, as I now see, the Spirit was burning in me at that time". [a]

Eventually, "one night in my sleep I heard a voice saying to me: "You do well to fast: soon you will depart for your home country" [a]; following another dream where he was told "Behold, your ship is ready" he fled 200 miles before boarding a boat back to Britain.

He entered St. Martin's monastery at Tours, and was commissioned by Pope St. Celestine I to return to Ireland as a missionary (there is a ruined chapel dedicated to him at Whitesands Bay, Pembrokeshire, from where he supposedly set sail.) He converted many of the local chieftans, and was involved in legendary disputes with the established druid priesthood.

Legend has it that he banished snakes from Ireland, and also that he taught the Irish about the Holy Trinity "by showing people the shamrock, a three-leaved clover, using it to highlight the Christian belief of 'three divine persons in the one God'". [b]

Collect

Almighty God,
who in your providence chose your servant Patrick
to be the apostle of the Irish people:
keep alive in us the fire of the faith he kindled
and strengthen us in our pilgrimage
      towards the light of everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

Saint Patrick's Breastplate

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;*
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,
The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun's life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart's idolatry,
Against the wizard's evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Sources

[a] Confessio, St. Patrick
[b] St. Patrick's Day Facts: Snakes, a Slave, and a Saint - National Geographic

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