Saint Patrick and the Cry of the Deer

When you hear about St. Patrick, you probably think of images of him preaching to the Irish, using the clover to illustrate the Trinity. But! While going through artwork about St. Patrick, I found a lot of pictures of him, not with a clover, but with a deer! For example, take a look at this one:

A Legend of St. Patrick, by Briton Riviere, c. 1877. Sudley House, Liverpool, United Kingdom. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
A Legend of St. Patrick, by Briton Riviere, c. 1877. Sudley House, Liverpool, United Kingdom.

So, what’s up with this picture?

Apparently! There is a legend that St. Patrick that involves deer, Druids, and prayer.

Like many legends, there are a variety of different stories and details. But, basically, the story goes like this: while St. Patrick was heading somewhere special to preach, some Druids lay in wake, intending to kill him and everyone who followed him. However! While St. Patrick and his followers walked along, they sang a song called Fáed Fíada, or, in English, The Cry of the Deer, which is a prayer of protection. Thus, when St. Patrick and his followers passed by the Druids, the Druids only saw a group of deer walking along and St. Patrick and his followers were able to pass safely through.

So! In this particular painting, St. Patrick, holding a baby fawn and followed by a doe, sneaks by the druids in cognito. So, if it doesn’t look like the typical pictures of St. Patrick, there’s a reason for that!

While that is only a legend, there is a poem, attributed to St. Patrick, called “The Cry of the Deer” which is known to be a prayer of protection. The poem, oddly enough, has nothing to do with a deer at all. But! In Irish mythology, the words, Fáed Fíada also can be translated as “mist of concealment.” And, since deer seem to be very good at hiding, that is probably why it’s known by this name.

Anyway, with no further ado, I present to you a translation of the poem in honor of St. Patrick’s Day!

Fáed Fíada (The Cry of the Deer)

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.

I arise today through the strength of Christ 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 the Archangels,
in hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
in prayers of Patriarchs, in predictions of Prophets,
in preachings of Apostles, in faiths of Confessors,
in innocence of Holy Virgins, in deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through the strength of Heaven:
light of Sun, brilliance of Moon, splendour 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 secure me:
against snares of devils, against temptations of vices,
against inclinations of nature, against everyone who
shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a crowd.
I summon today all these powers between me (and these evils):
against every cruel and merciless power that may oppose
my body and my soul,
against incantations of false prophets,
against black laws of heathenry,
against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatry,
against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
against every knowledge that endangers man’s body and soul.
Christ to protect me today
against poison, against burning, against drowning,
against wounding, so that there may come 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 in breadth, Christ in length,
Christ in height, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man 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.
Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of Christ. May Thy Salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of three, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer

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