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CANTICLE OF THE SUN

The best known poem of praise of St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). It was begun in 1225, but the final verses about Sister Death were added shortly before he died. His biographer, Thomas of Celano (1200-55), says that the saint's last words were: "Welcome, my Sister Death." The praise in the canticle is not addressed to the creatures but to God, their Creator. The full text of this great hymn reads:

Most high, all-powerful, all good, Lord!

All praise is yours, all glory, all honor

And all blessing.

To you, alone, Most High, do they belong.

No mortal lips are worthy

To pronounce your name.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through all that you have made,

And first my lord Brother Sun,

Who brings the day; and light you give to us through him.

How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor!

Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and Stars;

In the heavens you have made them, bright

And precious and fair.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,

And fair and stormy, all the weather's moods,

By which you cherish all that you have made.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water,

So useful, lowly, precious and pure.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,

Through whom you brighten up the night.

How beautiful is he, how gay! Full of power and strength.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth, our mother,

Who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces

Various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon

For love of you; through those who endure

Sickness and trial.

Happy those who endure in peace,

By you, Most High, they will be crowned.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through sister Death,

From whose embrace no mortal can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin!

Happy those She finds doing your will!

The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks,

And serve him with great humility.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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