This weekend we will celebrate two important saints in the life of the Church of New York: St. Patrick, our patron saint, and St. Joseph, the husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus.

These two feasts underscore the fact that the Church of New York is essentially a church of immigrants.

St. Patrick is one of the patron saints of Ireland, and when the Irish Catholics immigrated to the United States in the 19th century they brought with them their devotion to this great 5th century saint.  Patrick immigrated to Ireland from his home in Britain and is credited with bringing Christianity to that country.  When New York’s first cathedral was dedicated in 1815, old St. Patrick’s on Mott Street, the diocese was placed under the patronage of St. Patrick.  To this day St. Patrick’s day is a huge celebration for our city.  St. Patrick’s feast day is March 17th.  Below is the famous prayer called the “Breastplate of St. Patrick.”

The second feast we celebrate this time of year is the Feast of St. Joseph on March 19th.  Joseph barely needs an introduction.  He was immensely important in welcoming the Son of God into the world and protecting His mother Mary.  Joseph is remembered for his strength, obedience, faith and his simplicity.  Joseph is the silent saint.  In the gospels we never hear Joseph speak.  All we know about him is that he was a carpenter who was engaged to Mary.  When Mary was found to be pregnant he trusted the angel’s message and married her despite the fact that the child wasn’t his.  Joseph’s life wasn’t always easy.  He had to migrate to Egypt to protect his family, and then live in fear that enemies of Jesus might still seek the child’s life.  And yet Joseph lived a simple life:  he was a husband, a father, and a worker.  His life resembles the lives most of us live: quite, normal lives striving to do the will of God.  Maybe it is for this reason that he was named the patron saint of the universal Church.  In many catholic countries, St. Joseph’s day is also celebrated as “Father’s day.”  In New York, devotion to this great saint was brought from Europe by the mass waves of immigrants from Italy in the late 19th and early 20th century.

May St. Patrick and St. Joseph, whose devotions were carried to the new world in the hearts of immigrants fleeing from poverty and oppression pray for immigrants today who come to our shores seeking refuge and opportunity.  And may these great saints, who were immigrants themselves, pray for us that those of us who are established here may welcome with open hearts the newly arrived immigrants in our midst.

Here is the famous Breastplate of St. Patrick, a prayer attributed to the Saint who lived in the 5th century.

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’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 the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The 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 shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and 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 an 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.