Saint Patrick (Maewyn Succat)

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Maewyn Succat, or Saint Patrick

Here’s to the legacy of Maewyn Succat (now called Saint Patrick). He was a Welsh-Roman teenager when he was captured by Irish slavers, and became a slave for about six years (geographically English, national citizenship by Rome). Then he had a vision that directed him to get to a ship to leave, and there was a ship. After years enslaved, he then returned home. Patrick then returned to England, and then became active in the church, and then received a dream to return to Ireland, and he did. Saint Patrick sought to save the Irish people, and share the gospel with those that enslaved him.

There are many reasons why this is an awesome story. First, it is an example of change and transcendence. Maewyn was of Anglo-Roman noble-stock and was enslaved. Was he marked in history by complaining about the injustices against him, or was he defined by loving those that persecuted him?  (the latter). Second, Maewyn was not even ‘Irish’ in the superficial sense, but was ‘Irish,’ in the sense that he loved the people of Ireland, which made him truly Irish. Love explains what and who you are. That is something substantial. What is not substantial, are things like color and language. Acts define you, not some group identity. Languages can be learned. Love transcends what separates you from another. That is to say, a superficial, and nigh irrelevant group-identity of mere color or class, pales in contrast to a substantial identity of one’s Faith, practice, purpose, and deeds, over the course of a lifetime of struggle and service. So, perhaps group identity matters, but one’s silly group-identity that is comprised of color or class, is so silly that it required a brief comment, about why St. Patrick was Irish, and this did not refer to his origin, bloodline, or class. Rather, Patrick is a heroic saint because his service to the Gospel and to the Irish people.

His prayers are pretty awesome too.

Here is what he is most famous for, called by various names: ‘St. Patrick’s Breastplate‘, or ‘The Deer’s Cry’, ‘The Lorica of Saint Patrick’ or ‘Saint Patrick’s Hymn’:

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, smiths, and wizards,
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.

I recommend his Confessions of St. Patrick and Letter to Coroticus by St.Patrick, Saint Patrick. It is a short work, but definitely worth having in your library, as a historical reflection and devotion. It definitely makes you grateful and inspired. May we all aspire to be ‘sterner stuff,’ like St. Patrick, who was a servant of Christ, and the original Hibernophile (lover of the Irish).

If you are interested in the overall history of Saint Patrick, then I’d recommend this biography by Philip Freeman, St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography .  For an overall account of Celtic Christianity, and its impact on Western Civilization, I’d recommend this book by Thomas Cahill How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe.

Hope everyone has a great day. May Christ be before, behind you, and in you. Amen.