The Deer’s Cry

There is a very popular prayer in Ireland and wherever the Irish traveled (meaning everywhere!) called the ‘breastplate of Saint Patrick’. Breastplate in Latin is known as ‘Lorica’ and so this prayer came to be known as the ‘lorica’. This personal armor worn by the Roman soldiers on battlefield is a whole set of protecting clothing, designed to absorb and/or deflect slashing, bludgeoning, and penetrating attacks.

This powerful prayer was composed by Saint Patrick in the year 433. He was aware that there was an ambush to try to kill him and his group en route to the King’s court. During the march that they chanted the ‘lorica’ and what happened bordered on the miraculous. As the druids lay in hiding, ready to kill Patrick and his companions, the inexplicable happened – their vision was altered. Instead of seeing reality, namely Patrick and his men, they saw a gentle doe followed by twenty fawns! So they were saved and Patrick could continue his mission.

Saint Paul himself spoke of ‘the breastplate of righteousness’. This prayer is indeed formidable. Here it is… “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 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 near, alone and in a crowd…

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… Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of Christ. May Thy Salvation, O Lord, be ever with us. Amen.”

In Gaelic this prayer is called the Faed Fiada – Deer’s Cry.? The story continues. Having been carried safe by the Lord through the ambushes prepared for them, Patrick led his companions into the king’s presence, chanting: “Let them that will, trust in chariots and horses, but we walk in the name of the Lord.”

We all need a breastplate to protect us from the attacks of our enemy. Why not use this one?


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.