Praying to Saints and Folk Magic: San Patrizio

According to the Rue's Kitchen ( ), an excellent website of Benedicaria (the Craft of Blessing) and Stregonria (Italian folk magic), some families with an Irish-Italian heritage in New England invoke San Patrizio or Saint Patrick in their protection rituals.

San Patrizio lent his name to the Pozzo di San Patrizio, which means in English, the "well of San Patrizio." This well was built in 1527 near Orvieto in Italy. The well was constructed to furnish water to the city in case of seige.

San Patrizio is also the patron saint of engineers, excluded people, Nigeria, Loiza, Puerto Rico, Ireland, the diocese of Dromore, Ireland, the archdiocese of Armagh, Ireland, the diocese of Kilmore, Ireland, the archdiocese of Adelaide, Australia, the diocese of Ballarat, Australia, the archdiocese of Melbourne, Australia, the diocese of Auckland, New Zealand, the archdiocese of Cape Town, South Africa, the diocese of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, the diocese of Mymensingh, Bangladesh, the diocese of Poona, India, the archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts, the diocese of Burlington, Vermont, the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, the diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania, the diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, , the archdiocese of New York, the diocese of Norwich, Connecticut, the diocese of Portland, Maine, and the diocese of Sacramento, California.

He is foremost a saint of protection, and he is particularly invoked against snakes and poisonous snake bites. Likewise, he is prayed to in cases of ophidophia (fear of snakes).

The association with snakes related to a legend, which the saint was later attached to, in which he is credited with driving snakes and other poisonous reptiles out of Ireland and into the sea. Post-glacial Ireland never had any snakes, so the snakes were gone long before he arrived in the 5th century. There was also a legend, less known to Americans, that the saint exiled a dragon into a fathomless Irish lake. Unfortunately, accounts did not agree which deep lake in the isle the beast was imprisoned in.

Clearly St. Patrick or San Patrizio is one of many Christian saints credited with banishing or slaying venomous serpents or dragons--like San Georgio (St. George) or Santa Marta, Santa Margherita di Antiocha (St. Margaret), Santa Marta (St. Martha), San Magnus di Fussen (St. Magnus of Fusson), San Domenico di Sora.

The historical Patricus was the son of an Italian, Calpurnius, who was an official for the Roman government in the British Isles. His birth name was Magonus Sucatus or Maewy Succat and he was born in either Scotland or England. At age 16, he was captured by Irish pirates and sold into slavery. After working six years as a sheep herder, he escaped.

He studied in several monasteries in Europe and took holy orders, also taking the name, Patricus.

Eventually, he returned to Ireland to bring Christianity to the Irish.

Much of the Irish tales attributed to Saint Patrick seem to be legend.

However, the historical Patricus did apparently light the first Easter bonfire on the hill of Slane. This action usurped the function of Ireland's High Druid, who annually kindled a sacred fire on the hill of Tara for the feast of Beltane, which marked the end of winter and honored the Celtic Gods.

In Ireland, St. Patrick is credited with fusing traditional Celtic beliefs with Christianity.

One legend recounted that St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the concept of the Christian Trinity to the Irish people. So eloquent was the saint's metaphore that he convered the High King of Ireland plus some Druids as well.

It's an interesting tale, since three-form deitites were already common in Druidic lore and pre-Christian Celtic religion. The shamrock has been reported to be a sacred plant of the Irish Druids.

As stated before, the devotions and prayers of San Patrizio are associated with protection. These teachings of San Patrizio is the well which will sustain the faithful when besieged by hostile forces.

One method to draw upon the strength of this well is for a practitioner to light a white candle and recite one of the versions of the prayer, alternatively known as the "Il pettoral di San Patrizio," the "St. Patrick's Breastplate," the "Lorica," "the Cry of the Deer," "the Deer's Cry," or the "Faedh Fiada." Naturally, this prayer should be accompanied with other suitable Catholic prayers. A much longer version of this prayer is in Useful Prayers: Lorica. (For a shorter version, see suggestions below.)

The legend attached to this prayer stated that the saint recited this prayer on the way to meet the High King at Tara. He had heard rumors of bandits, and he was forewarned that some enemies might be planning to ambush him and his group enroute.

The saint and his clerics loudly chanted this prayer as they walked along the forested path.

It is said that there were indeed men secretly waiting in the bushes in order to kill the holy man's party. However, these assassins neither saw nor heard the saint nor his followers. All they saw pass in the forest was a doe followed by many fauns.

Thus, this prayer supposedly allows one to walk among enemies unharmed.

Rue's Kitchen suggested these following prayers of San Patrizio. I have found versions of them in both English and Italian.

Saint 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 me 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.

Il pettoral di San Patrizio
Cristo sia con me, Cristo in me,
Cristo dietro di me, Cristo davanti a me,
Cristo accanto a me, Cristo per vincere me,
Cristo per la comoditą di me e il ripristino di me,
Cristo sotto di me, Cristo sopra di me,
Cristo, in una zona tranquilla, Cristo in pericolo,
Cristo nel cuore di tutti che l'amore di me,
Cristo nella bocca di un amico e straniero.

Prayer for the Faithful by Saint Patrick
May the Strength of God guide us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us.
- Against the snares of the evil one.

May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!

May Thy Grace, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen.

Preghiera per i fedeli di San Patrizio
Che la Forza di Dio ci guidi.
Che la potenza di Dio preservare noi.
Possa la Sapienza di Dio ci istruiscono.
Possa la mano di Dio ci protegga.
Che la via diretta di Dio a noi.
Possa la Shield di Dio difendere noi.
Maggio, la guardia di angeli di Dio a noi.
-- Contro le insidie del maligno.

Cristo sia con noi!
Cristo sia prima di noi!
Cristo sia in noi,
Cristo sia pił di tutti!

Maggio Tua grazia, Signore,
Sempre essere la nostra,
Questo giorno, o Signore, e sempre.

Prayer for God's Protection and Christ's Presence
As I arise today, may the strength of God pilot me, the power of God uphold me, the wisdom of God guide me. May the eye of God look before me, the ear of God hear me, the word of God speak for me. May the hand of God protect me, the way of God lie before me, the shield of God defend me, the host of God save me. May Christ shield me today...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, Christ when I stand, 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. Amen

Preghiera per la protezione di Dio e di Cristo Presenza
Come nascono oggi, la forza di Dio mi pilota, la potenza di Dio difendere me, la sapienza di Dio mi guida. Possa l'occhio di Dio guardare prima di me, l'orecchio di Dio mi ascolti, la parola di Dio parlare per me. Possa la mano di Dio mi protegge, il modo di Dio si trovano di fronte a me, lo scudo di Dio difendere me, l'accoglienza di Dio salvare me. Possa Cristo scudo me oggi ... Cristo con me, Cristo davanti a me, Cristo dietro di me, Cristo in me, Cristo sotto di me, Cristo sopra di me, Cristo alla mia destra, Cristo alla mia sinistra, Cristo quando mi corico, Cristo quando Siedo, Cristo quando mi attengo, Cristo nel cuore di tutti coloro che pensano di me, Cristo in bocca di tutti, che parla di me, Cristo in ogni occhio che vede me, Cristo in ogni orecchio che ascolta me. Amen.

Italian Charm of Protection

I have not seen this magico-religious charm of protection attached to San Patrizio. However, it seemed to be appropriate and could be used along with any of the above prayers attributed to him.

With one, I recognize you;
With two, I see you;
With three, I bind you.
Your will is frozen,
And your words are broken.
Christ reigns;
Christ overcomes;
And Christ defends me from all harm.
The practitioner will tie three knots into a string of white wool while reciting the charm.

Chaplet of St. Patrick

San Patrizio or St. Patrick is one of the saints with his own prayer beads or "chaplet" which may be used in petitions to him. I did find intructions on how to use this chaplet to petion aid for a specific request.

The Chaplet of San Patrizio, or Chaplet of St. Patrick, tradtionally consists of a medal of St. Patrick and 12 green beads.

The petitioner began the devotion by reciting the Apostles' Creed on the medal of St. Patrick. On each of the twelve green beads the petitioner recited 1 Glory Be. At the end of the chaplet, the petioner recited: "Through the intercession of St. Patrick, may God Almighty strengthen one's faith, and grant the grace of faith for others. Amen." At this point, the petitioner was supposed to state his/her specific request for protection or make some other petition for aid.

This saint's colors are green, like his beads, and white. White candles may be offered to him anytime, but his special weekday for devotions and prayers is Sunday.

Useful Prayers: Lorica

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