Pathways through Lent

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

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March 17th.  St. Patrick’s Day

The shamrock is one of the most familiar symbols of Ireland. In the United States it is often confused with the four leaf clover, a lucky charm, which has nothing to do with the rich imagery of the beloved shamrock. The shamrock is a young clover with three leaves, said to have been used by Saint Patrick in the 5th Century to illustrate The Holy Trinity. His audience was a rural and Celtic people who worshipped the sun and thought the moon to be holy.

Celtic prayers and poems draw richly on the forces and power of nature, the seasons and their cycles. This prayer, Saint Patrick’s Breastplate, attributed to the Irish Patron Saint, likely had its origins in even earlier times.

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

Translation by Kuno Meyer.

-Andrew Clarke

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