“THE DEER’S CRY”

ST. PATRICK AND THE KING OF TARA

King Laoghaire, pagan king of Tara, was planning to kill Patrick. But God had revealed his evil intentions to the saint.

The king said to Patrick: “Follow me back to Tara so that I may profess my faith in your God in the presence of the men of Ireland”.

The king set up an ambush on the way to Tara with his men lying in wait to kill Patrick.

Patrick set out for Tara with his group of young clerics and the boy Benén serving as their attendant.

Knowing the king’s intentions, Patrick blessed his companions in the name of Jesus Christ and a cloud of protection came down upon them.

 

When they came to the place of ambush the soldiers lying in wait saw nothing but eight deer going past them into the wild and behind them a fawn with a bundle on its shoulder.

It was Patrick and his companions and Benén behind them with the writing tablets of Christianity on his back.

It was then that Patrick composed the hymn in Irish known as “The Deer’s Cry” or “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”.

Patrick visited Carlingford in 452 and built a church a Rooskey on the South Commons of Carlingford.
He is buried on the other side of the Mourne Mountains in Downpatrick. Having died in Saul in 461

The Irish recite this hymn The Deer’s cry or St Patricks Breastplate ever since to protect them against dangers to body and soul.

The hymn begins:
“I bind unto myself today
the strong name of the Trinity:
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One and One in Three.”

It concludes:
“Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort 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.”

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