Today, on the vigil of the Feast day of Saint Patrick, the Catholic Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin, and the Church of Ireland Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop John McDowell, led the annual Saint Patricks lecture and discussion organised by Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council in the Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre, Armagh.  Following this event, the archbishops delivered their Saint Patricks Day message expressing concern about the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

At the outset of their address, the archbishops said, “It would be unconscionable for us to celebrate the feast of Saint Patrick this year without offering the solidarity of our prayers, charity and welcome for the people of Ukraine…We also acknowledge the many Russian people, here and in their homeland, who bear no responsibility for this heart-breaking situation and who share our desire for peace and an end to this terrible violence.

Highlighting the similarities between the life of Saint Patrick and the massive number of refugees displaced by the war, the archbishops said, “May all Christians of Europe, including Patriarch Kirill and the Russian Orthodox Church, unite in daily spiritual and practical efforts in support of a ceasefire, humanitarian outreach and the immediate laying down of weapons. Christ’s cause can only be advanced by Christ’s means.

“At a young age Saint Patrick was captured and trafficked to these shores – no doubt frightened, disoriented, distressed and fearful for his life. In the opening words of his Confession, he describes how he and others were scattered among many nations”.

“So too the thousands of refugees arriving in Ireland must feel scattered amongst the nations. We pray that our land of welcomes will continue to offer compassionate respite to our sisters and brothers in their time of need.”

In conclusion, the archbishops shared Saint Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer for the people of Ukraine. They said, “Our community reflection here in Ireland on what is happening today in Europe should help us learn lessons for our own peace process, about the importance of never taking our progress in peace for granted, never giving up on dialogue and the building of bridges and mutual understanding across historical divides. The tragedy of what we are witnessing in Ukraine during these days impels us again here in Ireland to work for a genuine human fraternity as the only way to resolve differences and conflicts.

For all the people of Ukraine we pray Saint PatrickBreastplate Prayer:

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 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. 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 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.”

ENDS