With the newest papal encyclical due out soon, and with its purported title to be Laudato si’ [Praised Be You] from St. Francis of Assisi’s great prayer, The Canticle of the Sun, Acton’s director of research Samuel Gregg takes a closer look at this saint.
St. Francis of Assisi loved God’s created world; of that there is no doubt. However, is he the patron saint of the eco-warrior crowd? Gregg says there are far too many myths that surround this great servant of God. For instance, many people attribute the Peace Prayer (“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…”) to St. Francis of Assisi. Not true.
It was written by Sebastian Temple, a twentieth century South African born composer. The prayer on which Temple based the hymn can’t be traced further back than a French magazine published in 1912.
The text to which I always turn whenever claims about Francis of Assisi are made is Augustine Thompson O.P’s meticulously researched Francis of Assisi: A New Biography (2012). The real strength of this biography is the way it rigorously analyzes the documentary record and sources and shifts out what is reliable from that which is hearsay and legend.