On World Environment Day 2020 Sr Maria Vittoria fcJ reflects on St Francis’ Canticle, Laudato Si’ praising God for all creatures in our environment
LAUDATO SI’ is a ‘cantica’ that St Francis of Assisi addressed to God in praise and gratitude for Creation. It is one of the earliest poems of our Italian Literature and just beautiful!
St. Francis of Assisi wrote the Cantico delle Creature i.e. Laudato Si’ in 1224, two years before he died and after being very ill for a few days. St. Francis had always been a great admirer of nature as reflection of the Creator. In this composition classified as rhythmic prose like the Psalms, he expresses his great admiration and praise of God through his Creation.
We find a similarity in Scripture, ex. Psalm 148, but also in the song of the two young men in the Book of Daniel and in a few other places.
What is wonderful in Francis though is his use of adjectives and the way he calls the elements brother, mother, and sister:
‘messer frate sole …. bellu et radiante cum grand splendore….’ ‘ sir brother sun beautiful and shining with great splendour…..’
‘Laudato si’ mi’ Signore per sora acqua……’ Laudato si’ for sister water….’ La quale è multo utile et humile et pretiosa et casta…. ‘ ‘sister water, very useful, humble and chaste.’….
‘Laudato si’ mi’ Signore per sora nostra madre terra la quale ne sustenta et governa, et produce diversi fructi, con coloriti fiori et erba….’ ‘Laudato si’ mi’ Signore for our mother the earth that supports us and looks after us, and bears different kinds of fruit, with colourful flowers and grass…..’
Canticle of the Sun – Laudato Si’
Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honour, and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no one is worthy to mention Your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendour!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which
You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which 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 Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord,
through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will
find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord,
and give Him thanks.