The Prayer of Saint Francis is a CatholicChristianprayer. It is widely but erroneously attributed to the 13th-century saintFrancis of Assisi. The prayer in its present form cannot be traced back further than 1912, when it was printed in Paris in French, in a small spiritual magazine called La Clochette (The Little Bell), published by La Ligue de la Sainte-Messe (The Holy Mass League). The author's name was not given, although it may have been the founder of La Ligue, Fr. Esther Bouquerel.
A professor at the University of Orleans in France, Dr. Christian Renoux, published a study of the prayer and its history in French in 2001.
The prayer has been known in the United States since 1927 when its first known translation in English appeared in January of that year in the Quaker magazine Friends' Intelligencer (Philadelphia), where it was attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. CardinalFrancis Spellman and Senator Albert W. Hawkes distributed millions of copies of the prayer during and just after World War II.:92–95
Summarizing the Christian Renoux book on the prayer, an article by Egidio Picucci on the 19–20 January 2009 issue of L'Osservatore Romano says that the earliest record of the prayer is its appearance, as "a beautiful prayer to say during Mass" in the December 1912 number of the small devotional French publication La Clochette, "the bulletin of the League of the Holy Mass". In 1915, Marquis Stanislas de La Rochethulon, president of the Anglo-French association Souvenir Normand, which called itself "a work of peace and justice inspired by the testament of William the Conqueror, who is considered to be the ancestor of all the royal families of Europe", sent this prayer to Pope Benedict XV.
The Pope had an Italian translation published on the front page of L'Osservatore Romano of 20 January 1916. It appeared under the heading, "The prayer of Souvenir Normand for peace", and with the explanation: "Souvenir Normand has sent the Holy Father the text of some prayers for peace. We have pleasure in presenting in particular the prayer addressed to the Sacred Heart, inspired by the testament of William the Conqueror". On 28 January 1916, the French newspaper La Croix reprinted, in French, the Osservatore Romano article, with exactly the same heading and explanation. La Rochethulon wrote to the newspaper to clarify that it was not a prayer of Souvenir Normand, but he chose not to mention La Clochette, the first publication in which it had appeared. Because of its appearance on L'Osservatore Romano and La Croix as a prayer for peace during the First World War, this prayer then became widely known.
^Jim Willis. The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers. Publisher: Visible Ink Press (September 1, 2003); ISBN 978-1578591510. Also J.D. Douglas, ed. The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1974; and Justo L. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, 2 vols. NY: Harper & Row, 1985.l