In caelesti collegio: A hymn for St. Francis of Assisi

This 15th century Office hymn honoring St. Francis of Assisi focuses on the saint’s likeness to Christ, to the point of bearing Christ’s wounds in the stigmata.

Christ is the exemplar of all the choirs of saints. He is the prince of martyrs, the Sent One who rules the college of apostles, the Prince of virgins. And following Christ, according to this hymn, St. Francis is an honorary member of a number of saintly choirs. He and his brothers were like apostles. He is a martyr by desire. Although not a priest, he is one with the confessors, and with the virgins, he follows after Christ wherever He goes.

Perhaps some will enjoy meditating on this text rather than Make Me a Channel of Your Peace. A worthy modern text is Randall DeBruyn’s rendering of St. Francis’ great prayer at the Portiuncula, In Perfect Charity.

St. Francis shines in glorious light
among the heav’nly college bright,
for by a grace of special kind
Christ’s marks are on St. Francis signed.
He lived with friends in poverty,
an apostolic company,
and bears the cross that signals peace,
the covenant that shall not cease.
A martyr by desire, he bears
the cross of Christ, whose sign he wears,
so in the heav’ns Christ makes him be
one with the martyr’s company.
He always bore the cross of Christ.
Through abstinence he sacrificed.
So with confessors now he reigns
and with them their reward he gains.
In gleaming robes as white as snow
he follows where Christ’s footsteps go,
and joys in chastity’s great prize
in angel choirs above the skies.
O Father, Son, and Spirit, by
The wounds of Francis purify
Your servants who these gifts implore
Forever and forevermore.

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