These two prayers have been attributed to (Saint) Francis of Assisi, mystic, poet, stigmatist, and founder of the Roman Catholic Franciscan orders. Francis lived in voluntary and absolute poverty, preaching, caring for the sick and the poor, and earning his bread by manual labor or begging. He and his followers owned nothing, neither individually nor in common. He was deeply loved by many, and he was canonized as a saint in 1228, only two years after his death.

While Francis' authorship of the Canticle of the Sun is certain, I'm told that the first prayer here, the "peace prayer," was probably not composed by him. Friend Chris Laning has kindly provided some research on this: he says that the eminent Franciscan scholars Armstrong and Brady state that the prayer is not by Francis, was not attributed to him before the 1920's, and was earlier attributed to "William the Norman" and perhaps, strangely, to William the Conquerer. The prayer does, nevertheless, seem to reflect Francis' spirit; therefore, I have included it here. The Canticle of the Sun, by the way, was composed during a time of intense physical and emotional suffering for Francis.

-- George Amoss


Prayer attributed to Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand
, To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


The Canticle of the Sun
Composed by St. Francis of Assisi, 1225 C.E.

    Most high, almighty, good Lord God, to thee belong praise, glory, honor, and benediction.
    Praised be my Lord for all thy creatures, especially brother sun, who brings us the day and the light; beautiful is he, and radiant with great splendor; of thee, Most High, he is a sign.
    Praised be my Lord for sister moon and the stars, which thou has set in the heavens, clear and precious and fair.
    Praised be my Lord for brother wind, and the air and the clouds, and clear skies and all weathers by which the life of thy creatures is sustained.
    Praised be my Lord for sister water; most useful is she, and humble, and precious and pure.
    Praised be my Lord for brother fire, who illumines the night and gives us warmth; bright and merry is he, and mighty and strong.
    Praised be my Lord for our sister, mother earth, who sustains and teaches us, and brings forth divers fruits and the many-hued flowers and grasses.
    Praised be my Lord for those who forgive in the name of love, and weakness bear, and tribulation; blessed are they who persevere in peace, for thou, most High, shall give them a crown.
    Praised be my Lord for sister bodily death, from whom no living one can flee; woe to those who die in mortal sin; blessed are they who walk in thy most holy will, for the second death will not harm them.
    Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks, and serve him with great humility.


The strophe in praise of those who forgive and live in peace was added by Francis to prevent a war between the governor and the bishop of Assisi. According to the histories, Francis, who was ill, sent two friars, with a group of the town notables, to sing the newly-amended Canticle before the governor. The governor, who loved Francis greatly, was moved to tears, and he immediately reconciled himself with the bishop. The two men forgave each other, and war was averted.


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