PRAYERCAzT: The Lorica of St. Patrick

The Latin word loríca means “a leather cuirass; a defense of any kind; a breastwork, parapet”.  In effect, it means “armor”.  It has come to be associated with a prayer attributed to St. Patrick (+ 5th c.) .

“Loríca” is also association with an rhythmic invocation or prayer especially for protection as when going into battle.

The Lorica of St. Patrick is rooted in an unconfused belief in the supernatural dimension of our lives, that there is a spiritual battle being waged for our souls, and in our absolute dependence on the One Three-Personed God.

One could pray this prayer each and every morning.

Sancti Patricii Hymnus ad Temoriam.

Ad Temoriam hodia potentiam praepollentem invoco Trinitatis,
Credo in Trinitatem sub unitate numinis elementorum.

Apud Temoriam hodie virtutem nativitatis Christi cum ea ejus baptismi,
Virtutem crucifixionis cum ea ejus sepulturae,
Virtutem resurrectionis cum ea ascensionis,
Virtutem adventus ad judicium aeternum.

Apud Temoriam hodie virtutem amoris Seraphim in obsequio angelorum,
In spe resurrectionis ad adipiscendum praemium.
In orationibus nobilium Patrum,
In praedictionibus prophetarum,
In praedicationibus apostolorum,
In fide confessorum,
In castitate sanctarum virginum,
In actis justorum virorum.

Apud Temoriam hodie potentiam coeli,
Lucem solis,
Candorem nivis,
Vim ignis,
Rapiditatem fulguris,
Velocitatem venti,
Profunditatem maris,
Stabilitatem terrae,
Duritiam petrarum.

Ad Temoriam hodie potentia Dei me dirigat,
Potestas Dei me conservet,
Sapientia Dei me edoceat,
Oculus Dei mihi provideat,
Auris Dei me exaudiat,
Verbum Dei me disertum faciat,
Manus Dei me protegat,
Via Dei mihi patefiat,
Scutum Dei me protegat,
Exercitus Dei me defendat,
Contra insidias daemonum,
Contra illecebras vitiorum,
Contra inclinationes animi,
Contra omnem hominem qui meditetur injuriam mihi,
Procul et prope,
Cum paucis et cum multis.

Posui circa me sane omnes potentias has
Contra omnem potentiam hostilem saevam
Excogitatam meo corpori et meae animae;
Contra incantamenta pseudo-vatum,
Contra nigras leges gentilitatis,
Contra pseudo-leges haereseos,
Contra dolum idololatriae,
Contra incantamenta mulierum,
Et fabrorum ferrariorum et druidum,
Contra omnem scientiam quae occaecat animum hominis.

Christus me protegat hodie
Contra venenum,
Contra combustionem,
Contra demersionem,
Contra vulnera,
Donec meritus essem multum praemii.

Christus mecum,
Christus ante me,
Christus me pone,
Christus in me,
Christus infra me,
Christus supra me,
Christus ad dextram meam,
Christus ad laevam meam,
Christus hine,
Christus illine,
Christus a tergo.

Christus in corde omnis hominis quem alloquar,
Christus in ore cujusvis qui me alloquatur,
Christus in omni oculo qui me videat,
Christus in omni aure quae me audiat.

Ad Temoriam hodie potentiam praepollentem invoco Trinitatis.

Credo in Trinitatem sub Unitate numinis elementorum.
Domini est salus,
Domini est salus,
Christi est salus,
Salus tua, Domine, sit semper nobiscum.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Hard-Identity Catholicism, PRAYERCAzT: What Does The (Latin) Prayer Really Sound L and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to PRAYERCAzT: The Lorica of St. Patrick

  1. APX says:

    It says it “cannot play audio file”. [It works for me.]

  2. Mike says:

    Having only encountered the fragment of the “Breastplate” that accompanies misty pseudo-Irish nods to St. Patrick, I had no idea of its provenance or of the power of this prayer. Thank you, Father.

  3. Triple Domer says:

    For those of us not versed in Latin, is there a solid English translation that you recommend Father?

  4. Pingback: Loríca: The Prayer for St. Patrick’s Day | Dr. Leroy Huizenga

  5. Rachel K says:

    This is beautiful! I had trouble playing the audio file too, but it seems to be working now.
    Thank you.
    Regarding a translation, I would like to write it out from Fr Z’s “dictation” ; that’s a good exercise for homeschooling families too. I might get my children to do it as a Lenten exercise, and then decorate it with Celtic designs (I think I am getting carried away here!). But hey, that would be a good creative activity. Better than colouring a shamrock…again…!

  6. Wonderful! I love this version, its much like the one I pray every day.

  7. uptoncp says:

    My Latin is very scant, but good enough to say, having been through the full C. F. Alexander translation, that it seems to be about as good as you could expect a metrical version to be.

  8. OrthodoxChick says:

    Love this!! I took dictation of your translation, Father. I’m going to try to make up a prayer card for myself with both the latin and your english translation of this prayer so I can add it to my morning offering. Beautiful! Thank you so much!!

  9. OrthodoxChick says:

    P.S. I had no trouble whatsoever with the audio file and I kept stopping/re-starting it as well as playing it all the way through. I used the player directly from your blog; no download and no mobile devices.

  10. MichaelKavanagh says:

    Wonderful!

    I have memorized tyhe english translation of it, and did a little study as to this prayer. I have a couple of questions on word choices since my knowledge of latin is limited to the Credo and basic prayers.

    I do not have the original Irish in which this prayer was written, but based on modern english translations it goes something alont the lines of
    I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
    Through belief in the Threeness,
    In confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.

    So two questions pop up:

    1) Should that be “hodie” instead of “hodia” in the first line, as to maintain its parallel structure throughout?

    2) Can someone explain the choice of “numinis elementorum” to express the “Creator of creation”? I would have, with my barstool Latin, expected “Creator” something something? Or was there an element in the Irish that “Creator of creation” did not grasp?

  11. Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    Hi Michael Kavanagh,

    I think that Numen Elementorum is rather difficult to translate into English. Maybe “numinous Deity of first principles” captures some of the nuance. I hope you can see why English poets do not use that turn of phrase to translate this.

    Most English translations today are made from an Irish version, and not from the Latin. There are, however, at least two translations of this Latin version into English, one by James Henthorn Todd and another by James Clarence Mangan. Both can be found here:

    http://nautamundonaufrago.blogspot.com/2011/03/sancti-patricii-lorica.html

    Frankly, I prefer these translations of the Latin to the more popular ones from the Irish. Mangan’s version is the one I read to my kids; they love it.

    And yes, hodia is a typo, which I made three years ago when I first transcribed this beautiful poem into electronic text. I have since corrected it, but not before it got spread far and wide on the internet. My apologies.

    I don’t know any Irish, but judging from the translations available, I’d say the biggest differences between it and the Latin are

    1. There is no mention of the Hill of Tara in the Irish.

    2. There is nothing equivalent to “Domini est salus” in the Irish.

    3. I love that phrase, Numen Elementorum. I find it very evocative and philosophical.

    For these reasons, I very much prefer the Latin.