Lovers of St. Francis revere one of his last writings, the Canticle of Brother Sun. Simply as literature, The Canticle of Brother Sun is the first great poem of the Italian vernacular. Spiritually speaking, the Canticle displays one of the traits so loved about Francis--his experience of God and brotherhood through the created order.
Most High, all powerful, good Lord,In reading Thompson's biography I learned the following. Francis wrote the Canticle in the final years of his life when his health was declining rapidly. Among the symptoms Francis was struggling with was light sensitivity--sunlight, firelight and full moonlight caused him pain. More, Francis wrote the Canticle during the wintertime. The cold wind was also plaguing the ailing Francis who was living in a drafty cell.
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor and all blessing.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong
And no human is worthy to mention your name.
Praised be you, my Lord, with all your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom you give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,
and bears a likeness of you, Most High One.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven you formed them clear, and precious and wonderful.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,
through whom you give sustenance to all your creatures.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful, and humble, and precious, and chaste.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night.
And he is beautiful, and playful, and robust and strong.
Praised be you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces fruit with colored flowers and herbs.
Praise and bless my Lord and give him thanks
and serve him with great humility.
And yet, despite these afflictions, praise pours forth for Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Fire, and Brother Wind. I've tended to imagine Francis walking serenely among the wildflowers as I've read the words of the Canticle. And in my own life the words come to me as I feel embraced by my Sister, Mother Earth.
But knowing the physical situation Francis was in when he wrote the Canticle takes the romantic, hippie tinge off the song and makes me appreciate the depth of Francis's praise even more.