Archive for March 17th, 2023

Saint Patrick’s Exile


Written by Debra Paxton-Buursma, a contemporary professor and author.

St. Patrick, a Roman by ancestry, lived along the English coast in the fifth century AD, 350 years after Christ. This was a time when others in Egypt, Italy, and Istanbul were choosing to retreat from the world in their search for God. Despite his grandfather’s role as a cleric and his father’s status as a Christian nobleman, young Patrick distanced himself from Christianity, embracing all the world had to offer—that is, until he was kidnapped by pirates (the stuff of movies!) and brought to what we now call Ireland. Exiled from home and family, without the luxury of technological advancements, St. Patrick was enslaved and immersed in a pagan culture of witchcraft, spells, and spirits. In response, he reached for the thing he took for granted as a kid: the love of Christ. In an exile with massive loss and incomprehensible threats, Patrick found God real and present, and he immersed himself in a spiritual journey. In time, Patrick escaped, returned to England, received formal training in the church, created a following of monks, embraced a deepening understanding of a trinitarian God, and headed back to Ireland as a missionary despite constant threats on his life. Patrick was credited for evangelizing Ireland and became known as St. Patrick, celebrated every March amid shamrocks, corned beef, and sauerkraut. No one really knows if Patrick actually penned the prayer; however, legend has it that this prayer of protection, the Lorica, was recited when he and his band of monks traveled about preaching. On one particular trip to the king’s court, Patrick became aware of druids lying in wait to ambush and kill Patrick and his monks, so they chanted the sacred Lorica. The druids reported they never saw St. Patrick and his monks that day and instead only saw a gentle doe followed by several fawns—thus the title of the prayer: “The Deer’s Cry,” which would be later called “St. Patrick’s Breastplate.” St. Patrick’s exile brought him into communion with Christ, into a place for discerning bold actions, and into a creative testimony: a prayer for protection that witnesses to the presence and power of trinitarian God. The prayer inspired by St. Patrick’s exile experiences intersects with our places of exile. 


Written by St. Patrick (AD 385-461), a Christian missionary and bishop who served in Ireland.  This prayer is known as the sacred Lorica.

Christ to shield me today against poisoning, against burning, against drowning, against wounding. … 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 everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

Read Full Post »