The Prayer of St Patrick

Most believe that the prayer of St Patrick, also known as "St Patrick's Breast-Plate", originated as a prayer to protect St Patrick from a Pagan ambush.

According to the Irish legend, the prayer of St Patrick was composed in 433 AD as he and his followers journeyed to the Hill of Tara, knowing that along the way they would face an ambush intended to kill them all.

Instead of seeing St Patrick and his group, the Druids waiting in the bushes to kill all of them saw a doe followed by fawns.

Needless to say, St Patrick's prayer saved them all. Because of this legend, the prayer of St Patrick is also sometimes called "The Deer's Cry".

There are many versions of the prayer of St Patrick on the web.

And since I don't claim to be an expert on Irish or Catholic history, I encourage you to consult other resources to determine the most accurate text if you need it for scholarly reasons.

But if you are just seeking inspiration from the words of this powerful prayer, what follows is as good as any.

It is said to be a literal translation of the prayer of St Patrick from the old Gaelic text.

The Prayer of St Patrick

Also known as "St Patrick's Breastplate"

I arise to-day
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise to-day
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 save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in a multitude.

Christ to shield me to-day
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
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 when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise to-day
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

Source: Colum, Padraic, ed. Anthology of Irish Verse. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1922;, 2001.

Click here to return to the TOP of the Prayer of St Patrick

The History of Saint Patrick

St Patrick of Ireland: In His Own Words

The Legend of St Patrick

Saint Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland

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