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The World of Saint Patrick$
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Philip Freeman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199372584

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199372584.001.0001

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“Saint Patrick’s Breastplate”

“Saint Patrick’s Breastplate”

(p.49) “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate”
The World of Saint Patrick

Philip Freeman

Oxford University Press

The Breastplate, ascribed to St. Patrick, is a morning prayer in the Old Irish language for protection of believers against the forces of evil, both human and supernatural, which they may face in the coming day. Although it is an early example of Irish Christian literature, it is unlikely that it was composed by Patrick. Like similar early hymns in Latin and Old Irish from Ireland, it is a prayer of protection with possible origins in pre-Christian magic. The hymn calls on Christ to surround the supplicant in all bodily directions and invokes God for protection against, among other evils, the magic of women, blacksmiths, and druids.

Keywords:   prayer, St. Patrick, druids, women, blacksmiths, magic

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