Lorica (incantation)

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In the Christian monastic tradition, a lorica is a prayer recited for protection. The Latin word lorica originally meant "armor" or "breastplate." Both meanings come together in the practice of placing verbal inscriptions on the shields or armorial trappings of knights, who might recite them before going into battle.

The idea underlying the name is probably derived from Ephesians 6:14, where the Apostle bids his readers stand, "having put on the breast-plate of righteousness,".[1]

Notable loricas include Rob tu mo bhoile, a Comdi cride, which in its English translation provides the text for the hymn Be Thou My Vision, the Lorica of Laidcenn and the Lorica of Saint Patrick, which begins

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

Lorica of St Patrick[edit]

Linguists cannot trace this lorica back further than the eighth century, which raises the question of whether it was based on an earlier poem dating back to the time of St. Patrick (5th century), or whether actually completely unknown to the saint to whom it has been ascribed.[2]

C. F. Alexander (1818-1895), penned a song version of St. Patrick's Breastplate in 1889 at the request of H. H. Dickinson, Dean of the Chapel Royal at Dublin Castle. He recalls, "I wrote to her suggesting that she should fill a gap in our Irish Church Hymnal by giving us a metrical version of St. Patrick's 'Lorica' and I sent her a carefully collated copy of the best prose translations of it. Within a week she sent me that exquisitely beautiful as well as faithful version which appears in the appendix to our Church Hymnal." [3]

Recently some Christian authors tries to give spiritual impulses based on Celtic spirituality. So published David Adam some books about Celtic prayers and spiritual exercises for modern Christians. In one of his books, The Cry Of The Deer, [4] he used the Lorica of St Patrick as a way to Celtic spirituality.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Gildae Lorica", Early Church Fathers, pp.289-293, (1899)
  2. ^ St Patrick, a Visual Celebration, Davis, Courtney, Blandford, 1999, p. 31, “St Patrick’s Breastplate”, Gill, Elaine
  3. ^ [1], The Prayer Foundation: St Patrick's Breastplate Prayer.
  4. ^ David Adam: The Cry Of The Deer, London 1987.