Before converting the pagan Irish King Leoghaire to Catholicism, Saint Patrick said this prayer for divine protection known as The Deer’s Cry.

Also known as Saint Patrick’s Breastplate, The Lorica of Saint Patrick or Saint Patrick’s Hymn, Ireland’s most beloved patron composed it in 433 A.D. during his time of bringing the Faith to the island.

The prayer was found in the Liber Hymnorum, a collection of 40 hymns in old Irish and Latin of the Celtic Rite dating back to the 11th century at Trinity College in Dublin. The document tells the account of how Saint Patrick used the prayer.

“Saint Patrick sang this when an ambush was laid against his coming by Loeghaire, that he might not go to Tara to sow the faith. And then it appeared before those lying in ambush that they [Saint Patrick and his monks] were wild deer with a fawn following them.”

King Lóegaire is the legendary adversary of Saint Patrick, who attempted to kill him and his fellow monks many times. It was after saying this prayer that Saint Patrick was successful in finally converting the pagan king to the Faith.

The lorica, a prayer for divine protection, most likely references Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and the analogy of putting on the breastplate of God in the battle against Evil.

“Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate – Ephesians 6:13-14

Below is a literal translation from the old Irish text of Saint Patrick’s Prayer:

“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.”

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