A Modern Reworking of St. Patrick’s Breastplate

St. Patrick’s Lorica, more commonly referred to as St. Patrick’s Breastplate, is an ancient Christian incantation attributed to Patrick of Ireland, the Romano-British missionary who brought Christianity to Ireland in the second half of the 5th century. As they are prone to do, scholars debate whether the historical Patrick actually wrote the Breastplate with some dating its creation to the 8th century.

Patrick would become the country’s most famous patron saint. In popular folklore, he taught the pagan Irish about the Trinity with a shamrock, grew trees from his walking stick, and magically banished snakes from Ireland. The date of Saint Patrick’s death became a widely celebrated holiday, a day of Irish pride, and occasion for drinking beer with unhealthy amounts of green dye.

St. Patrick’s Breastplate has found its way into Christian practice in a variety of shapes and forms. A number of translations can be found with a quick internet search. In some, portions of the Lorica that are incomprehensible, or even offensive to some today, are left out without mention.

What follows isn’t an attempt to faithfully transcribe the author’s original intent. Some of that is lost to the ages and most certainly burdened with the baggage of primitive belief and druidic superstition. Instead, while seeking to be appropriately referential (and reverential), this reworking seeks to provide a prayer that can be understood within a modern context. I hope you find it helpful.

St. Patrick’s Lorica | a modern adaptation

I claim freedom today,
Through a power beyond my ability,
An expression of the Trinity,
Through a belief in holy mystery,
Through acceptance of a profound unity,
Experienced in the whole of creation.

I claim freedom today,
Through the power of Christ’s birth and baptism,
Through the power of Christ’s merciful works and just witness,
Through the power of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.

I claim freedom today,
Finding inspiration in those who trust and love as children,
In good beyond my understanding,
In the hope of resurrection and coming justice,
In the prayers of matriarchs and patriarchs,
In the words of wise elders,
In the faith of those called to great task,
In the innocence of those set apart,
In the deeds of righteous individuals.

I claim freedom today,
Marveling in the beauty of creation;
The radiant light of the sun,
The splendor and warmth of fire,
The persistence of life
The flash of lightning, the boom of thunder,
The alacrity of the wind,
The depth of the sea,
The perseverance of the earth,
The foundational reliability of the rock.

I claim freedom today,
Asking for divine potential to inspire me;
For God’s strength to lift me up,
For God’s wisdom to guide me,
For God’s eye to provide a vision,
For God’s ear to augment mine,
For God’s word to speak for me, to me,
For God’s love to guard me,
From temptations of forces I understand,
and those I can never comprehend,
From those I perceive as my enemies,
and those who would truly do me harm,
deserved or undeserved.
Help me to pray constantly for them all.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes
my body and soul,
Against the crafty words of false prophets,
Against the corrupt values of this world,
Against the false teachings of heretics,
and the hardened hearts of those who are always right,
Against the constant creation of false idols,
Against the seductive spells of gadgeteers and wizards,
Against every knowledge that devalues a person’s body and soul.

Christ shield me today;
Against anger, against jealousy,
Against fear, against timidity,
So that your justice may flow through me
and I may share in its reward.

Christ with me, before me, behind me,
Christ within me, beneath me, above me,
Christ on my right, on my left,
Christ when I lie down, when I sit down, and even when I get down.

May Christ be in the heart of every person who thinks of me,
The mouth of every person who speaks of me,
The vision of those who see me,
The hearing of each people who listens to me.

I claim freedom today,
Through a power beyond my own,
An expression of the Trinity,
Through a belief in holy mystery,
Through acceptance of a profound unity,
Experienced in the whole of creation.

Image Credit: Image contains elements from “Saint Patrick stained glass window from Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, CA” by Thomas Gun via Wikipedia, Creative Commons.

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