I’m into the Trinity, my son’s into knights. So imagine the thrill of finding this image which brings our interests together. It’s a picture of a knight preparing to go into battle against an array of evils and vices. It is from a 13th-century illuminated manuscript in the British Library. The knight himself is a big fellow, well covered in mail and a helmet, armed with a spear and sword. And his shield has on it the diagram (a version of which I featured in yesterday’s post) of the Trinity:
The circle at the center represents the divine essence, and the three circles at the shield’s corners represent (in heavily abbreviated Latin: pr, spc, fili) the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I can’t read most of the (fascinating!) stuff on this page, but what’s crucial in the traditional Trinity shield is that each divine person is connected to the divine essence with the affirmation: IS. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Spirit is God. And each divine person is connected to the other persons with the denial: IS NOT, recognizing that the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Spirit, and so on.
The doctrinal diagram emblazoned on a shield, it seems to me, makes exactly the same point as the elaborately trinitarian prayer of St. Patrick, known as Patrick’s Breastplate:
I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.
Cited here in Cecil Frances Alexander’s almost singable English versification.
In Old Testament terms, God is a refuge and a shield, and that God who is our shield is Father, Son, and Spirit.