Posts Tagged ‘St Patrick’

St Patrick's BreastplateA few days ago I went off on a retreat to a peaceful rural house in County Down to get my head showered (as we say in N. Ireland) and to read and write and think and pray about work and life and things in general. This booklet was on the coffee table…

Patrick more than a legend… it was written by the late Derick Bingham and was much more enlightening and uplifting – and accurate – than the stuff I blogged about earlier.

In my student days at Trinity College Dublin studying History and Politics, I had a course in medieval Irish History which included Patrick. Ever since I have been impressed and fascinated not just by Patrick’s life and mission, but by the incredible influence of the Irish Celtic Church that he founded and which became a mission movement that can still be learned from today. Celtic missionaries worked within the culture and translated the Scriptures into the local languages as they spread the Gospel throughout Ireland, Scotland, the North of England and deep into Europe ravaged in the years after the fall of Rome. And after all, wasn’t it the Irish who saved civilisation…  see Thomas Cahill “How the Irish Saved Civilisation

At the end of the booklet, Derick Bingham included St Patrick’s Breastplate.

Patrick's BreastpalteThe notes say this…

The original, though traditionally ascribed to Patrick, is thought rather to be an 8th century compilation of his Christian faith and beliefs written in the form of a Druidic incantation for preservation on a journey. It shows the power the Gospel had to spiritually transform the thinking of the Irish.


It is still today a wonderful meditation on the spiritual journey of the Christian life.

Unlike the very popular penultimate verse in the illustration at the top of this post – and much Facebooked and Tweeted in the past few days – I have included the fuller version below for readers to enjoy.

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 spicèd 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.

Source: http://www.prayerfoundation.org/st_patricks_breastplate_prayer.htm

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Two days ago was St Patrick’s Day.

Green Colosseum

The Colosseum, where Christians were once killed by wild animals, a symbol of the Roman Empire which collapsed leaving Irish Celtic Christianity founded by Patrick to save civilisation.

Many famous places around the world were lit up green. The Colosseum in Rome was but one unlikely venue.

Many people posted simplistic and trivial nonsense about what St Patrick’s Day is definitely not about: like the statement that in Ireland:

“Traditionally, people attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Then they eat Irish bacon and cabbage. Yum!”

That one came from an organisation that will remain nameless but should certainly know better in terms of cultural accuracy.

Then there was the American video  entitled Who was St Patrick – Christian History Made Easy with garish graphics including St Patrick standing dressed in red, clutching a church under his arm and shouldering a twentieth century tricolour Irish flag. As a former History teacher, I was horrified!

On a more sensible and much more tasteful note, Gilbert Lennox Photography posted this image

Green aurora at Ballintoy

“The aurora returned just in time to turn the night sky green for St Patrick’s Day. This is the parish church at Ballintoy.”


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Speaking in Desertcreat Parish Church

Speaking in Desertcreat Parish Church Sunday 23 March 2014

I’ve been in Ardtrea and Desertcreat Parish churches several times before, but although I knew the churches had a long history I only found out how long when I checked their websites this morning.

First Ardtrea…

Ardtrea Parish Church

Ardtrea Parish Church

The name Ardtrea means ‘hill of Trea.’ Trea was a virgin saint who was converted to the Christian faith by Patrick in the fifth century. She was said to live as a recluse at Ardtrea Derry.

Our record of former ministers dates back as far as 1406 so like Desertcreat we are a church with a lot of history.

Pretty impressive!

Now Desertcreat…

Desertcreat parish Church

Desertcreat parish Church

On the wall of the vestry room at Desertcreat there is a list of Vicars, Rectors and Curates. The earliest entries date back to 1440 but Christians have been meeting to worship at Desertcreat for much longer than that. In the fifth century A.D Saint Patrick was travelling throughout Ireland. Christians were meeting to worship at Desertcreat during this period so it goes without saying that we are a church with a lot of history. The building we use at present is the fourth building on the site. The name Desertcreat means the hermitage or desert of the two territories.

I showed photos of the Oku New Testament dedication in NW Cameroon and thanked the two churches for their faithful support for that project. As I went on to introduce them to a new project translating God’s Word for 16 languages in a cluster of islands in Indonesia… I wonder, could St Patrick himself have stood on or close to the spot where I was speaking..?

Probably not! But it is exciting to be encouraging support for Bible translation for the remaining 1,919 languages with no Scripture, in a context where God has been worshipped for sixteen centuries.

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Yesterday I took a trip with my parents to St Patrick country – Downpatrick – where tradition has it he is buried in the grounds of Down Cathedral.

Down Cathedral, Downpatrick

Today is 17 March, St Patrick’s Day and below are some of the most famous lines from St Patrick’s Breastplate:

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.

But today Ruth and I went elsewhere in Co Down – walking in the Mourne Mountains. We parked at Carrick Little and soon joined the Mourne Wall which we followed to the top of Slieve Binnion, then north through the tors along the ridge and the steep descent to the col between Slieve Binnion and Slieve Lamagan before turning right and following the track back to the car park. You can find the route we took here.

There are no stories of Patrick walking in these mountains, but it was a great way to spend his day enjoying some of the beautiful landscape of the country which Patrick led to Christianity all those years ago.

Our objective - Slieve Binnion

At the summit with Silent Valley reservoir below

Lunch in the sun at picnic rock

Looking north over Ben Crom as we descended

We picked our way through all those large white bags of rock;  a rock stepped path is being built on this side of Binnian. It is needed since this slope is badly eroded. Looking forward to seeing the completed work.

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