The Prayer before the Crucifix - 40 

The Prayer before the Crucifix
(1205/06)

While Thomas of Celano and Saint Bonaventure characterize the early years of Francis's life as a struggle to discern God's will, the author of The Legend of the Three Companions, according to two manuscripts, summarizes Francis's yearnings in this simple prayer and places it on his lips as he kneels before the Crucifix of the crumbling church of San Damiano in Assisi.a The prayer may have been influenced by the liturgical opening prayer of the Eucharistic liturgy. This version of the prayer is based on the simple text found in the majority of Latin manuscripts. As it became more popular, the prayer was embellished and lost some of its simplicity.b

Most High,
glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me
true faith,
certain hope,
and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge,
Lord,
that I may carry out
Your holy and true command.

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Oratio ante crucifixum dicta, Fontes Franciscani, p. 167


Oratio Ante Crucifixum Dicta
(1205/06)

Summe,
gloriose Deus,
illumina tenebras cordis mei
et da mihi
fidem rectam,
spem certam
et caritatem perfectam,
sensum et cognitionem,
Domine,
ut faciam
tuum sanctum et verax mandatum.

Altissimo
glorioso Dio,
illumina le tenebre de lo core mio
et dame
fede dricta,
sperança certa
e caritade perfecta,
senno et cognoscemento,
signore,
che faça
lo tuo santo e verace commandamento.
Amen.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 40

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