The Canticle of Brother Sun (1225) - 391 

The Canticle of Brother Sun

The companions of Saint Francis tell us that the Canticle of Brother Sun was composed while he was staying in a small hut next to San Damiano.a The saint had completed a long and no doubt exhausting preaching tour after his time on LaVerna, August to September, 1224, and spent time convalescing close to Saint Clare and the Poor Ladies. Almost blind and completely helpless, his body racked in agony, Francis lay in a little darkened cell. In those long hours of interior and exterior darkness, he endured severe temptations of despondency. Yet during one of those moments of discouragement, the Lord assured him that he would enjoy heavenly glory and this inspired this canticle of joy that will always characterize Franciscan spirituality.

We might wonder what were the intentions of the stigmatized, mystic Saint Francis in desiring to spend time at San Damiano. Thomas of Celano and Bonaventure write of his desire to return to his beginnings, that is, to practice once again the patterns of his conversion that first led him to the Lord. No doubt San Damiano was a sentimental favorite in this regard since it was there that the call to rebuild the Lord's house was first made known to him. But it may also be that Francis realized how completely Clare and her sisters had come to live a fuller Trinitarian life.

In any case, this canticle of praise, filled with Francis's vision of a universe mirroring the presence of the Triune God, could only have come from the heart of a mystic.b When seen in the light of San Damiano, filled as it is with images of both saints Francis and Clare, the Canticle of Brother Sun becomes a beautiful, meaningful reflection of both.




Clare of Assisi: Early Documents, p. 391