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17 March 2017
  + Pádraig of Ireland, Bishop and Missionary +
17 March AD 466

St. Patrick Pádraig (Patrick, Padraic), one of the best-known missionary saints, was born to a Christian family in southwest Britain around the year 389. While he was a teenager, raiders captured and took him to Ireland. There, he was forced to serve as a herdsman.

After six years he escaped and found his way, home, and then traveled to a monastery community in France. Imagine the surprise of those who knew him — even by his own reckoning, he left Britain as one who cared little for God.

With his new trust in the Lord, Patrick threw himself wholeheartedly into monastic life. Ordained a bishop in 432, he made his way back to Ireland, where he spent the rest of his long life spreading the Gospel and organizing Christian communities.

He staunchly defended the doctrine of the Holy Trinity during a time when it was not popular to do so. His writings include his spiritual autobiography, the Confessio, and several prayers and hymns still used in the church today.

St. Patrick's Cross Pádraig died around the year 466. Many people attribute the Lorica (see below) to him. One of the symbols used for Patrick in ecclesiastical art is a red Cross Saltire on a white background. This was added to the overlaid crosses of Saint George and Saint Andrew to form the current Union Jack of the United Kingdom.

The legendary account of Patrick driving snakes off of the Emerald Isle is just that — a legend. There's no evidence that snakes ever slithered across Irish soil. Much more likely is the story that he used the shamrock or some other type of clover to roughly illustrate the Holy Trinity to the unconverted folk of Ireland.

If he were to return to earth in present day, one can only imagine the disdain with which this hero of the faith would view the drunken celebrations in many places which are held to "honor" his memory.

Lection

Psalm 97:1-2,7-12 or 96:1-7
1 Thessalonians 2:2b-12
Matthew 28:16-20

Collect

Almighty God, in Your providence You chose your servant Pádraig to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who wandered in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of You; grant us so to walk in that light, that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now forever.

The Lorica or Saint Patrick's Breastplate

Shamrock Trinity 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 forever,
     by power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
his baptism in the Jordan river;
     his death on cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spiced tomb;
     his riding up he 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 cherubim;
the sweet "Well done" in judgement 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;
of 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 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.

Translation by Cecil Francis Alexander

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