Thursday, March 4, 2010

Irish Trinity Rosary and the Legend of St. Patrick




According to legend, St. Patrick used the shamrock as a way to explain the Trinity to the ancient Celtic tribes of Ireland known as the Druids. The shamrock was already considered a sacred plant to these peoples, and they believed that it had special powers. Saint Patrick is said to have asked the Druids questions such as, "Is this one leaf or three?" followed by, "Is it both one leaf and three leaves?" He would then tell them that it is the same way with God--three persons and yet, one God.
A major reason St. Patrick was able to convert the Druids to Christianity is considered to be his use of ideas and beliefs they already had. You could say the he spoke their language both figuratively and literally, as he was also fluent in the Celtic language.
The Lorica of St. Patrick, which is commonly known as St. Patrick's Breastplate, is now accepted by scholars to actually be written by St. Patrick himself. It is a beautiful prayer to the Triune God--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--which would make a wonderful prayer addition to this rosary.
Karen Edmisten, author of a new book on the rosary The Rosary: Keeping Company with Mary and Jesus, has a link on her blog to a beautiful musical composition by Shaun Davey of The Breastplate of St. Patrick, Christ In Me (The Deer's Cry) sung by his wife, Rita Connolly.

St. 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.

1 comment:

Laude Arts and Gifts said...

Christine,

Thanks so much for such an interesting article on St. Patrick. I love the prayer.

I read once that the "serpents/snakes" that St. Patrick allegedly drove out of Ireland were in fact the Druids. This is because, in St Patrick's era, male druids had two snakes tatooed on their arms. It is these snakes that the legend refers to. This makes a lot more sense to me than the image of St. Patty somehow herding hords of slithering repitles out of the Emerald Isle. LOL :)