Prayers for the Battle

Put ye on the armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore take on the armor of God, that ye may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.

Ephesians 6:11-17

The passage above, from The Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, seems on the surface to be comparing, in metaphor, aspects of the Christian faith to the various pieces of armor a warrior might wear.  Each item protecting or arming the faithful in the way that a breastplate or sword might.  As metaphor, and as spiritual truth, it is powerful.  However, it also speaks to a later tradition.

It speaks to the Lorica.

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“Lorica” is the Latin word for armor worn on the torso, and developed from the word lori, referring to a leather strap, which no doubt was a part of early armor. The word is ancient and lent itself to many meanings over the centuries.  Lorica hamata, was a ring mail used by the Roman soldiers until the First Century A.D., which was followed by lorica segmentata, a body armor fashioned from strips of iron or steel attached to a leather interior, a cheaper alternative to mail.  This was replaced by more efficiently made mail armor at the end of the third century. The word lorica, over this time, generally came to mean the breastplate section of armor, and eventually became a more general reference to complete body armor.

 

The battles of the Middle Ages, though, were not all against other peoples, but were often against the forces of evil as well.  As such, the armor would receive a blessing.  Over time, the blessing of the armor became known as a lorica as well.  Over time, when entering a purely spiritual battle, the prayer itself was rightly considered the stronger protection.

 

Tradition has it that when St. Patrick went to confront and convert Irish King Leoghaire and his pagan subjects in 433 A.D. he wrote a particularly powerful lorica, invoking the divine protection of the Holy Trinity in a litany of petitions seeking to defend and strengthen him for the confrontation.  Naturally, there is evidence that the lorica attributed to him is of his time, and evidence to the contrary, but it is a prayer of protection that was respected and revered throughout the Middle Ages, usually recited in the morning each day to prepare for the day ahead.  And many with the wisdom say it today as well.

 

Prayer over actual instruments of battle, however lyrical, was not the work of poets and storytellers, it was very real.  Indeed, the blessing of armor was a part of the 1595 Pontificale Romanum of Clement VIII (a collection of religious rites for celebration by bishops).  These were only recently removed in the 1961 revision.  Until then the Pontificale Romanum allowed for the the blessing of armor, the blessing of a sword, and the blessing and consignment of a military banner.  One of the two blessings of armor went as follows:

 

Let us pray. May the blessing of Almighty God, the +Father, the +Son and the Holy +Spirit, descend upon this armor, and upon him that weareth it, that he may defend justice. We ask Thee, Lord God, that Thou protect and defend him, that livest and reignest, one God for ever and ever. R. Amen.

 

Pontificale Romanum, 1595 (see here and here).

 

While they were for real armor for real battles, there can be no doubt that prayers of this type were not necessarily always for physical battle, but also for spiritual warfare, the often unseen battle that surrounded them and us against the forces of evil.

 

While these are hardly the Middle Ages, there can be no doubt that exorcisms are on the rise, the culture has drifted from its Christian foundations and consideration of the holy is all but absent from popular discourse.  In other words, it is a time when those preparing for spiritual warfare might want to turn again to the lorica prayers.

 

The Lorica of Saint Patrick
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I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.

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 down, Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man 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.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

Amen.

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