Our family is not Irish (we are Scots) but, still, St. Patrick’s Day has a lot of meaning for us. We were married on March 13th thirty years ago and were honeymooning in Colorado on St. Patrick’s Day when some bagpipers began playing near our hotel. Thirty years later, the sound of pipe music brings back such happy memories.

Fourteen years after we were married we were expecting our fifth baby. I thought we had settled on a name but the night before the baby was due, my husband remembered a name he had seen in a celtic book of baby names before we ever even had children; the name was Kealen (little slender one).

After much discussion, I finally said, “All right…if he is born on his due date he can be called Kealen”(thinking I was safe with that statement since we had had three late-arriving babies and one born early)!

Kealen (true to form) arrived exactly one hour after midnight on March 17th with his bag of waters (also called a caul) intact. Being born with the caul is a sign of “luck” and Kealen has been a blessing to the family ever since.

So a honeymoon and a baby with an Irish name born on St. Patty’s Day made us curious to learn more about the man Patrick who was the first missionary to Ireland in 400 A.D. We began researching Patrick and were fascinated by what we learned.

When Kealen was six years old we moved and joined a church where we learned a beautiful hymn called, “St. Patrick’s Breastplate.” Based on the words of Patrick, it is rich in Christian doctrine and has become one of our family’s favorites.

Our seventh child was born when I was 41 and we called her “the child of our old age” so it was with delight and surprise that we found we were expecting three years later. Shortly before my 45th birthday (and my husband’s 49th) we were blessed with a little son who is really “the child of our old age.”

All seven siblings agreed that this new little brother should be blessed with the name of Patrick. He is such a joy and a real character (as we think Patrick of Ireland must have been so many years ago).

This beautiful prayer is one of two written documents attributed to Patrick of Ireland. He is said to have written it in anticipation of the victory over Paganism. It is also known as “The Lorica of Patrick”, and “The Deer’s Cry”. The hymn that we know as “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” is based on these words.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the Incarnation of Christ with His Baptism,
The virtue of His crucifixion with His burial,
The virtue of His Resurrection with His Ascension,

The virtue of His coming on the Judgement Day.

I bind to myself today
The virtue of the love of seraphim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the hope of resurrection unto reward,
In prayers of Patriarchs,
In predictions of Prophets,
In preaching of Apostles,

In faith of Confessors,
In purity of holy Virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The flashing of lightning,

The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.

I bind to myself today
God’s Power to guide me,
God’s Might to uphold me,
God’s Wisdom to teach me,
God’s Eye to watch over me,

God’s Ear to hear me,
God’s Word to give me speech,
God’s Hand to guide me,
God’s Way to lie before me,
God’s Shield to shelter me,
God’s Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,

Whether few or with many.

I invoke today all these virtues
Against every hostile merciless power
Which may assail my body and my soul,
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and druids,
Against every knowledge that binds the soul of man.

Christ, protect me today
Against every poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against death-wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the ship,

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

Such beautiful, strong words that are even more moving when they are sung to a lilting, celtic melody!

If you want to help your younger children celebrate the day, here are some simple ideas which do not take a lot of preparation. Just be sure to read about Patrick and tell your children that March 17th is about more than shamrocks and parades!

Fun and Easy Ways to Celebrate the Day from Charlotte Siems

Green is the name of the game for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on March 17! Small holidays throughout the year are bright spots in your calendar. They’re a good excuse to have some fun, make memories and create little family traditions.

Holiday celebrations don’t have to be a big stress, Mom. The key is to keep it simple. Planning ahead a bit helps, but last-minute ideas are better than nothing!
Use this list of ideas as a springboard for your own creativity. Pick one or two and lighten up, because your kids certainly will:

~Everybody wear green so you don’t get pinched! Mom will probably need to monitor the pinching so kids don’t get carried away. A good rule of thumb for this type of fun: if the other person doesn’t think it’s funny, it’s not funny–so stop.
~Have green milk on your cereal. (Mom gets up early and sneaks green food coloring into the jug of milk!)
~Make shamrock sugar cookies. Or bake green-frosted cupcakes. Or buy some.
~Have green food for dinner: green mashed potatoes, green jello, green drinks. Or make Irish stew and Irish soda bread for St. Patrick’s Day supper.
~Read a story about St. Patrick and discuss his life and the symbolism he used to teach people.
~Watch the old Disney movie Darby O’Gill and the Little People.