Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which to look at Christ's compassion to the world, yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good, and yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now."
- St. Teresa of Avila
Rosaries of Divine Union
The Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon
"Sanctify yourself and you
will sanctify society"
of the most famous and enduring, if not endearing saints of the West was born
the son of a wealthy silk merchant in the southern Italian town of Assisi.
Peter and Pica Bernadone became parents while Peter was away in France on
business. The newborn was baptized
and christened with the name of John (Giovanni), but upon his father’s return
from a successful business trip to France, he was renamed Francesco, or as we
know it, Francis.
Francis grew to be like most of the privileged youth of his day, gaming, playing and having fun. Like most such youth, his interests were far from business or scholarship. The ideals of chivalry were both a romantic idea and a set of social mores which influenced Francis, and in his idealism he joined in a war against the neighboring Perugians and was taken prisoner during the conflict in 1202. He was released upon ransom, and resuming his lifestyle experienced an illness and was not fully recovered when he again volunteered to join the army of Walter (Gualtier) de Brienne, who was marching in southern Italy. Arming himself with the best equipment money could buy, he set off to war.
At this point the story gets rather muddy, for some suggest that he had an illness in the town of Spoleto, during which he had a vision of Christ that changed his outlook and his life. One account suggested that he exchanged his finery with that of a poor peasant, whereupon he returned home to Assisi and faced derision for turning back from the war. In 1206, dressed in rags, he went upon a pilgrimage to Rome, where he met a leper and we are told that he was so moved by compassion that he kissed the man’s diseased hand and gave him money. This was highly symbolic, for leprosy was a highly communicable disease and carried with it the highest possible social stigma, and in this act Francis showed his solidarity and compassion for people of all circumstances. When he returned from Rome his course had been set for him: he would care for the sick, the poor, the powerless and the forgotten.
Francis spent many hours in solitary prayer and silence, and was fond of doing so in the abandoned and dilapidated chapel of San Damiano, which was located near the gates to the city of Assisi. As he meditated, he heard a voice speaking to him from the crucifix which said to him: Francis, go and repair my house which you see is now in ruins.” Francis understood this to mean that he was asked to repair the building, which was in serious disrepair, and promptly went to one of his father’s warehouses, gathered some cloth and a horse to carry it all on, and sold both cloth and horse in a nearby market town. He returned to San Damiano and attempted to give the money to the priest there, but it was refused since the money was obtained without his father’s consent. The elder Bernadone, hearing of this, was angry and sought for Francis. Hiding from his father in a cave near the town, he emerged a month later and was immediately taken, beaten and locked up in the family’s house. He eventually escaped and went to the church at San Damiano, where he sought shelter.
His father—believing Francis to be insane, sought to have him dispossessed of his inheritance, and brought him before the Bishop to have the matter decided. In one of the most dramatic scenes in church history, Francis, declaring himself all too glad to separate himself from his father, removed his clothes and gave them to the elder Bernadone, declaring that “Hitherto I have called you my father on earth; henceforth I desire to say only 'Our Father who art in Heaven.”
Eventually Francis came to understand that this mission was meant to apply to the church as a whole, requiring a call to renewal of the people and a recommitment to their spiritual journey. In this he undertook to live his life espoused to “Lady Poverty”, living near San Damiano church and restoring it with his own hands in labor each day. In 1209 he was inspired to live the rule of poverty in St. Mathew’s gospel literally: he gave away his shoes, his walking staff and his belt. Keeping only an undyed woolen cloak and a cord for a belt, he began preaching.
His preaching soon attracted others who agreed that poverty and service to others was a wonderful way to serve God, and among those were a leading citizen of the community, Bernard da Quintavalla--a rich merchant--as well as Peter of Cattaneo, a cannon of the cathedral. Both were given the sheppard’s cloak in April of 1209, and together they comprised the Friars Minor. In 1210, with permission from Pope Innocent III the Friars Minor became an official order in the church. With the passage of time, more and more people were attracted to Francis, including Saint Clare, who along with Francis founded a Franciscan order for women known as the Poor Ladies, and later known as the Poor Clares.
Two years before his death, Francis began a forty day
fast and while in prayer received the marks for which he would become legendary.
He was the first known saint to have experienced the stigmata, and they
were a continual source of pain and discomfort for him, yet became a source of
inspiration and faith for countless thousands—perhaps millions—of people
This Rosary is written using Francis’s Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon, emphasizing our unity with all creatures of creation. In the Canticle, Francis names the powers of nature as our family, as our kin and relations. This canticle has remained a powerful statement of the commonality and unity in God of all people, of the earth and of the creatures of the Earth. This awareness of our essential unity with all there is cannot help but underscore our need for a renewed appreciation for the gifts that we are given through the virtues of Mother Earth, in whose very body we find life. Francis celebrated that relationship with the “earthiness” of all things in a way that found dignity and value in the simplest expression of life. We are called by Francis to observe what is around us with simplicity and wonder, with acceptance and awe. We are called to change our perspective. What changes is not nature itself, but our awareness through prayer and silence of what nature has all along presented to us: a clear and unobstructed vision of God in Creation, and through creation, in ourselves.
Begin by having an intention in mind for the rosary. This intention may be stated as part of the following prayer.
Prayer of Intention
We who gather to pray this rosary do have in our minds and
hearts the following intentions: (Here
a few moments of silence allow all to clarify their intentions).
We ask that these intentions may bring forth the results desired,
according to Your will. Amen.
1. Holding the cross in the right hand (if right handed), with the rest of the rosary in the left hand, bless yourself with the Invocation:
D In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
2. Holding the cross in
the right hand (if right handed), and with the rest of the rosary draped across
the left hand, begin with this Prayer of Praise from St. Francis:
Hail, holy Lady, most holy Queen,
3. On the first bead after the cross say the “Our Father”:
Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in
heaven. Give us this day our daily
bread; and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
“Our Father” translated from the Aramaic (see introduction)
Birther! Father-Mother of the
Cosmos, focus your light within
us—make it useful. Create your
reign of unity now; Your one desire acts with ours, as in all light, so in all
forms. Grant what we need each day
in bread and insight. Loose the
cords of mistakes binding us, as we release the strand we hold of others’
guilt. Don’t let surface things
delude us, but free us from what holds us back.
From you is born all ruling will, the power and the life to do, the song
that beautifies all; from age to
age it renews. Amen.
4. On the next three beads say the “AVE MARIA”:
Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
5. After the third AVE MARIA hold the chain and say the GLORIA PATRI:
be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is how and ever shall be, world without end.
6. Name the mystery and read the thoughts and prayer that follow each one. Begin with the OUR FATHER on the bead just before the medal and the AVE MARIA on the next ten beads following the medal. On the chain following these ten beads, say the GLORIA PATRI.
7. Then, name the next mystery and proceed exactly as above until all the mysteries have been said—that is say the OUR FATHER on the single bead, then the ten AVE MARIAs, then on the chain the GLORIA PATRI, then the next mystery.
First Decade of the Canticle
Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,
Holy Mary, Mother of Creation, bless us that we may experience God as Love in praise of all creatures, in love of all of creation. . Amen.
Second Decade of the Canticle
Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
Mother, be to us a sun, illuminating our way in life, opening our eyes to the
radiant splendor of Love. Amen.
of the Canticle
Praised be You, my Lord, through
Sister Moon and the stars,
be to you, Women clothed in the Sun, who wears a crown of stars.
May we see and cherish all expressions of God’s infinite mind.
of the Canticle
Praised be You my Lord through
Mother, remind us of water and spirit, of the limitless love of God, and
like water cool and refresh our hurts and pain.
Like fire, help us to burn with Love for all of creation. Amen.
Fifth Decade of the Canticle
Praised be You my Lord through our
of Life, instill in us a keen awareness of our Mother the Earth, in whose care
we spend our lives. Help us
remember her with love and respect and gratitude for her gifts. Amen.
of the Canticle
Praise be You my Lord through those
who grant pardon
of Compassion, bless us with patience, that we may go through our challenges
with grace and emerge from them stronger and more vibrant with love. Amen.
Decade of the Canticle
Praised be You, my Lord through
of the Eternal Life, bless us with grace that as we live our life, we live as
God intends us to live, according to our birthright and our inheritance as
children of God. In that life, like
the moon may we reflect the love of God; like fire may we radiate with love;
like water may we pour blessing on others. Like Earth may we embrace and nurture all of life everywhere
as our own life and like Wind may we carry the Love of Christ to all of
Note: the following prayer
is optional. Holding the cross,
this last prayer of praise, written by St. Francis, is said by all:
You are holy, Lord,
the only God,