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The Writings Of Saint Francis Of Assisi
by Father Paschal Robinson

VI. THE OFFICE OF THE PASSION.




Although the early biographies of St. Francis are silent as to this opuscule, its authenticity is guaranteed by the Legend of St. Clare written by Thomas of Celano toward the end of his life. [*1] In reference to the holy abbess' devotion to the Passion we are told by Celano that she "learned and frequently recited with attachment the Office of the Cross which Francis, the lover of the Cross, had instituted." [*2] This passage was rightly understood by Wadding as referring to the Office of the Passion which many early MSS. attribute to St. Francis, and the character of which altogether squares with the Saint's writings. Composed, as it is, of a simple and devout combination of Scriptural texts, this document is at once a witness to St. Francis' ardent devotion to the Crucified and a precious example of his method of prayer. It comprises five parts:

1. For the three last days of Holy Week and for week-days throughout the year.

2. For the Paschal season.

3. For Sundays and feast-days throughout the year.

4. For Advent.

5. For Christmas and the days following, to the close of the Epiphany octave.

The text of the Office given in the Quaracchi edition is that of the Assisi MS. 338, only a few rubrical notes having been omitted. The Office may also be

[p. 155]

found in MSS. at Oxford, [*1] Berlin, [*2] and Liegnitz [*3] already described. [*4] It has never before, so far as I know, been translated into English. Here it is:--

OFFICE OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD.

Here begin the Psalms which our most blessed Father Francis arranged to reverence and recall and praise the Passion of the Lord. And they begin from Compline on Maundy Thursday because on that night our Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed and taken captive. And note that the Blessed Francis was wont to say this office thus: First he said the Prayer which the Lord and Master taught us: Our Father most holy, [*5] with the Praises, to wit, Holy, Holy, Holy. [*6] When he had finished the Praises with the Prayer he began this antiphon, namely: Holy Mary. First he said the Psalms of the holy Virgin; besides he said other Psalms which he had selected, and at the end of all the Psalms which he said, he said the Psalms of the Passion, the Psalm being finished he said the antiphon, namely, Holy Virgin Mary. When this antiphon was finished, the office was completed.

I.--AT COMPLINE.

Ant. Holy Virgin Mary.

Psalm.

Ps. 55: 9. O God, I have declared to Thee my life; Thou hast set my tears in Thy sight.

[p. 156]

Ps. 40: 8. All my enemies devised evils against me.

Ps. 70: 10. They have consulted together.

Ps. 108: 5. And they have repaid me evil for good and hatred for my love.

Ps. 108: 4. Instead of making me a return of love they detracted me; but I gave myself to prayer.

Ps. 21: 12. My holy Father, King of heaven and earth, depart not from me; for tribulation is near and there is none to help.

Ps. 55: 10. When I cry unto Thee, then shall mine enemies be turned back; behold I know that thou art my God.

Ps. 37: 12. My friends and my neighbors have drawn near and stood against me; and they that were near me stood afar off.

Ps. 87: 9. Thou hast put away my acquaintance far from me; they have set me an abomination to them; I was delivered up and came not forth.

Ps. 21: 20. Holy Father, remove not Thy help far from me: My God, look toward my help.

Ps. 37: 23. Attend unto my help, O Lord, the God of my salvation,--Glory be. Holy Virgin Mary, there is none like unto Thee born in the world among women, daughter and handmaid

[p. 157]

of the most high King, the heavenly Father! Mother of our most holy Lord Jesus Christ, Spouse of the Holy Ghost; pray for us, with St. Michael Archangel, and all the Virtues of heaven, and all the Saints, to thy most holy, beloved Son, our Lord and Master. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.

Note that the foregoing antiphon is said at all the Hours and it is said for antiphon, chapter, hymn, versicle, and prayer, and at Matins and at all the Hours likewise. He said nothing else in them except this antiphon with its Psalms. At the completion of the office Blessed Francis always said: Let us bless the Lord God living and true; let us refer praise, glory, honor, blessing and all praise to Him, always. Amen. Amen. Fiat. Fiat.

AT MATINS.

Ant. Holy Virgin Mary.

Psalm.

Ps. 87: 2. O Lord, the God of my salvation, I have cried in the day and night before Thee.

Ps. 87: 3. Let my prayer come in before Thee; incline Thy ear to my petition.

Ps. 68: 19. Attend to my soul and deliver it: save me because of my enemies.

[p. 158]

Ps. 21: 10. For Thou art He that hast drawn me out of the womb; my hope from the breasts of my mother;

Ps. 21: 11. I was cast upon Thee from the womb. From my mother's womb Thou art my God;

Ps. 21: 12. Depart not from me.

Ps. 68: 20. Thou knowest my reproach and my confusion and my shame.

Ps. 68: 21. In Thy sight are all they that afflict me: my heart hath expected reproach and misery. And I looked for one that would grieve together with me, but there was none, and for one that would comfort me and I found none.

Ps. 85: 14. O God, the wicked are risen up against me and the assembly of the mighty have sought my soul; and they have not set Thee before their eyes.

Ps. 87: 5. I am counted among them that go down to the pit; I am become as a man without help,

Ps. 87: 6. free among the dead. Thou art my Father, most holy, my king and my God.

Ps. 37: 23. Attend unto my help, O Lord God of my salvation.

[p. 159]

AT PRIME.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm.

Ps. 56: 1. Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me; for my soul trusteth in Thee.

Ps. 56: 2. And in the shadow of Thy wings will I hope, until iniquity pass away.

Ps. 56: 3. I will cry to my most holy Father, the Most High: to God, who hath done good to me;

Ps. 56: 4. He hath sent from heaven and delivered me; He hath made them a reproach that trod upon me. God hath sent His power and His truth.

Ps. 17: 18. He delivered me from my strongest enemies and from them that hated me; for they were too strong for me.

Ps. 56: 7. They prepared a snare for my feet; and they bowed down my soul; they dug a pit before my face; and they are fallen into it.

Ps. 56: 8. My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready; I will sing, and rehearse a psalm.

Ps. 56: 9. Arise, O my glory, arise psaltery and harp; I will arise early.

[p. 160]

Ps. 56: 10. I will give praise to Thee, O Lord, among the people; I will sing a psalm to Thee among the nations;

Ps. 56: 11. For Thy mercy is magnified even to the heavens; and Thy truth unto the clouds.

Ps. 56: 12. Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; and Thy glory above all the earth.

AT TIERCE.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm.

Ps. 55: 2. Have mercy on me, O God, for man hath trodden me under foot; all the day long he hath afflicted me, fighting against me.

Ps. 55: 3. My enemies have trodden on me all the day long; for they are many that make war against me.

Ps. 40: 8. All my enemies devised evil against me;

Ps. 70: Jo. they have taken counsel together.

Ps. 40: 7. They went out and spoke to the same purpose.

Ps. 21: 8. All they that saw me have laughed me to scorn; they have spoken with the lips and wagged the head.

Ps. 21: 7. But I am a worm and no man, a

[p. 161]

reproach of men and outcast of the people.

Ps. 30: 12. I am become a reproach among all my enemies and very much to my neighbors; and a fear to my acquaintance.

Ps. 21: 20. Holy Father, remove not Thy help far from me; my God, look toward my defense.

Ps. 37: 23. Attend unto my help, O Lord God of my salvation. Glory be, etc.

AT SEXT.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm.

Ps. 141: 2. L cried to the Lord, with my voice; with my voice I made my supplication to the Lord.

Ps. 141: 3. I pour out my prayer in His sight; and before Him I declare my trouble.

Ps. 141: 4. When my spirit failed me, then Thou knewest my paths. In this way wherein I walked, they have hidden a snare for me.

Ps. 141: 5. I looked on my right-hand, and beheld, and there was no one that would know me. Flight hath failed me; and there is no one that hath regard to my soul.

[p. 162]

Ps. 68: 8. Because for Thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face.

Ps. 68: 9. I am become a stranger to my brethren; and an alien to the sons of my mother.

Ps. 68: 10. Holy Father, the zeal of Thy house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen upon me.

Ps. 34: 15. And they rejoiced against me and gathered together; scourges were gathered together upon me and I knew not.

Ps. 68: 5. They are multiplied above the hairs of my head who hate me without cause; My enemies are grown strong who have wrongfully persecuted me; then did pay I that which I took not away.

Ps. 34: 11. Unjust witnesses rising up, have asked me things I knew not.

Ps. 34: 12. They repaid me evil for good and

Ps. 37: 21. detracted me; because I followed goodness. Thou art my Father, most holy; my King and my God.

Ps. 37: 23. Attend unto my help, O Lord God of my salvation.

[p. 163]

AT NONES.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm.

Lam. 1: 12. O all ye that pass by, attend and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow.

Ps. 21: 17. For many dogs have encompassed me; the council of the malignant hath besieged me.

Ps. 21: 18. They looked and stared upon me;

Ps. 21: 19. they parted my garments among them and upon my vesture cast lots.

Ps. 21: 17. They have dug my hands and my feet;

Ps. 21: 18. they numbered all my bones.

Ps. 21: 14. They have opened their mouth against me: as a lion ravening and roaring.

Ps. 21: 15. I am poured out like water and all my bones are scattered. And my heart is become like melting wax in the midst of my bowels.

Ps. 21: 16. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue hath cleaved to my jaws.

Ps. 68: 22. And they gave me gall for my food: and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Ps. 21: 16. And Thou hast brought me into the dust of death;

[p. 164]

Ps. 68: 27. and they have added to the grief of my wounds. I slept and rose again; and my most holy Father received me with glory.

Ps. 72: 24. Holy Father, Thou hast held my right hand; and by Thy will Thou hast conducted me and hast received me with glory.

Ps. 72: 25. For what have I in heaven; and besides Thee what do I desire upon earth?

Ps. 45: 11. Be still and see that I am God, saith the Lord; I will be exalted among the nations and I will be exalted in the earth. Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,

Ps. 33: 23. who has redeemed the souls of His servants with His own most holy Blood; and none of them that trust in Him shall offend.

Ps. 95: 13. And we know that He cometh; for He will come to judge justice.

AT VESPERS.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm.

Ps. 46: 2. O clap your hands, all ye nations, shout unto God with the voice of joy.

[p. 165]

Ps. 46: 3. For the Lord is high, terrible: He is a great king over all the earth. For the most holy Father of heaven, our King, before ages sent His beloved Son from on high:

Ps. 73: 12. and hath wrought salvation in the midst of the earth.

Ps. 95: 11. Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad, let the sea be moved and the fulness thereof:

Ps. 95: 12. the fields and all that are in them shall be joyful.

Ps. 95: 1. Sing unto Him a new canticle; sing unto the Lord, all the earth.

Ps. 95: 4. For the Lord is great and exceedingly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods.

Ps. 95: 7. Bring to the Lord, O ye kindreds of the gentiles, bring to the Lord glory and honor.

Ps. 95: 8. Bring to the Lord glory unto His Name. Bring your own bodies and bear His holy cross; and follow His most holy precepts even unto the end.

Ps. 95: 9. Let all the earth be moved at His presence;

Ps. 95: 10. say among the gentiles that the Lord hath reigned.

[p. 166]

It is said up to this place daily from Good Friday until the feast of the Ascension. On the feast of the Ascension, however, these versicles are added over and above:

And He ascended unto heaven; and sitteth on the right-hand of the most Holy Father in heaven.

Ps. 56: 12. Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; and Thy glory above all the earth.

Ps. 95: 13. And we know that He cometh: for He will come to judge justice.

And note that from the Ascension until the Advent of the Lord this Psalm is said daily in the same manner, namely: "O clap your hands," with the foregoing versicles, "Glory be to the Father" being said where the Psalm ends, namely, "for He will come to judge with justice."

Note that the foregoing Psalms are said from Good Friday until Easter Sunday: they are said in the same manner from the octave of Whitsunday until the Advent of the Lord and from the octave of the Epiphany until Maundy Thursday, [*1] except on Sundays, and the principal feasts, on which they are not said: on the other days however they are said daily.

HOLY SATURDAY AT COMPLINE.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm.

Ps. 69: 2. O God, etc. (Ps. 69), as in the Psalter.

It is said daily at Compline until the octave of Pentecost.

[p. 167]

EASTER SUNDAY AT MATINS.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm.

Ps. 97: 1. Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: for He hath done wonderful things. His right hand hath sanctified His Son; and His arm is holy.

Ps. 97: 2. The Lord hath made known His salvation; He hath revealed His justice in the sight of the gentiles.

Ps. 41: 9. In the day time the Lord hath commanded His mercy: and a canticle to Him in the night.

Ps. 117: 24. This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Ps. 117: 26. Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Ps. 117: 27. The Lord is God and He hath shone upon us.

Ps. 95: 11. Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad: let the sea be moved and the fulness thereof.

Ps. 95: 12. The fields shall rejoice and all that are in them.

Ps. 95: 7. Bring to the Lord, O ye kindreds of the gentiles, bring to the Lord glory and honor:

Ps. 95: 8. bring to the Lord glory unto His Name.

[p. 168]

It is said up to this place daily from Easter Sunday to the feast of the Ascension at all the Hours except at Vespers and Compline and Prime. On the night of the Ascension these verses are added:--

Ps. 67: 33. Sing ye to God, ye kingdoms of the earth: sing ye to the Lord: sing ye to God,

Ps. 67: 34. who mounteth above the heaven of heavens to the east. Behold He will give to His voice the voice of power:

Ps. 67: 35. give ye glory to God for Israel: His magnificence and His power is in the clouds.

Ps. 67: 36. God is wonderful in His saints: the God of Israel is He who will give power and strength to His people. Blessed be God.

And note that this Psalm is said daily from the Ascension of the Lord until the octave of Whitsunday with the foregoing versicles at Matins and Tierce and Sext and Nones: "Glory be to the Father," being said where "Blessed be God " is said, and not elsewhere. Also note that it is said in the same manner only at Matins on Sundays and the principal feasts, from the octave of Whitsunday until Maundy Thursday because on that day the Lord ate the Pasch with His disciples, or the other Psalm may be said at Matins or at Vespers when one wishes, to wit, "I will extol Thee, O Lord," as it is in the Psalter, and this from Easter Sunday to the feast of the Ascension and not longer.

AT PRIME.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm. Have mercy on me, etc.--as above, p. <page 159>.

[p. 169]

AT TIERCE, SEXT AND NONES.

Psalm. Sing ye to the Lord, etc.--as above, p. <page 167>.

AT VESPERS.

Psalm. O clap your hands, etc.--as above, p. <page 164>.

Here begin the other psalms which our most blessed Father Francis likewise arranged which are to be said in place of the foregoing psalms of the Passion of the Lord on Sunday and the principal festivities from the octave of Whitsunday until Advent and from the octave of the Epiphany until Maundy Thursday.

AT COMPLINE.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm. O God, etc. (Ps. 69),--as it is in the Psalter.

AT MATINS.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm. Sing ye to the Lord, etc.,--as above, p. <page 167>.

AT PRIME.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm. Have mercy on me, etc.,--as above, p. <page 159>.

AT TIERCE.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm.

Ps. 65: 1. Shout with joy to God, all the earth.

Ps. 65: 2. Sing ye a Psalm to His name: give glory to His praise.

Ps. 65: 3. Say unto God, How terrible are Thy works, O Lord: in the multitude

[p. 170]

of Thy strength Thy enemies shall lie to Thee.

Ps. 65: 4. Let all the earth adore Thee and sing to Thee: let it sing a psalm to Thy Name.

Ps. 65: 16. Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what great things He hath done for my soul.

Ps. 65: 17. I cried to Him with my mouth: and I extolled Him with my tongue.

Ps. 17: 7. And He heard my voice from His holy temple: and my cry came before Him.

Ps. 65: 8. O bless our God, ye gentiles: and make the voice of His praise to be heard.

Ps. 71: 17. And in him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed: all nations shall magnify Him.

Ps. 71: 18. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who only doth wonderful things.

Ps. 71: 19. And blessed be the Name of His majesty forever: and the whole earth shall be filled with His majesty. Amen. Amen.

AT SEXT.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm.

Ps. 19: 2. May the Lord hear thee in the day of tribulation: may the Name of the God of Jacob protect thee: may He

[p. 171]

Ps. 19: 3. send thee help from the sanctuary and defend thee out of Sion:

Ps. 19: 4. be mindful of all thy sacrifices, and may thy whole burnt-offering be made fat;

Ps. 19: 5. Give thee according to thy own heart, and confirm all thy counsels.

Ps. 19: 6. We will rejoice in thy salvation; and in the Name of our God we shall be exalted.

Ps. 19: 7. The Lord fulfil all thy petitions: now I know that the Lord hath sent Jesus Christ His Son,

Ps. 9: 9. and will judge the people with justice.

Ps. 9: 10. And the Lord is become a refuge for the poor: a helper in due time of tribulation.

Ps. 9: 11. And let them trust in Thee who know Thy Name.

Ps. 143: 1. Blessed be the Lord my God:

Ps. 58: 17. for Thou art become my support and refuge in the day of my trouble.

Ps. 58: 18. Unto Thee, O my helper, will I sing: for God is my defence, my God, my mercy.

AT NONES.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm.

Ps. 70: 1. In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be put to confusion.

[p. 172]

Ps. 70: 2. Deliver me in Thy justice and rescue me: incline Thine ear unto and save me.

Ps. 70: 3. Be Thou unto me, O God, a protector and a place of strength: that Thou mayest make me safe.

Ps. 70: 5. For Thou art my patience, O Lord; my hope, O Lord, from my youth.

Ps. 70: 6. By Thee have I been confirmed from the womb, from my mother's womb Thou art my protector: of Thee I shall continually sing.

Ps. 70: 8. Let my mouth be filled with praise, that I may sing Thy glory; Thy greatness all the day long.

Ps. 68: 17. Hear me, O Lord, for Thy mercy is kind; look upon me according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies.

Ps. 68: 18. And turn not away Thy face from Thy servant; for I am in trouble, hear me speedily.

Ps. 143: 1. Blessed be the Lord my God.

Ps. 58: 17. For Thou art become my support and refuge in the day of my trouble.

Ps. 58: 18. Unto Thee, O my helper, will I sing; for God is my defence, my God, my mercy.

AT VESPERS.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm. O clap your hands. . . as above, p. <page 164>.

[p. 173]

Here begin other Psalms which our most blessed Father Francis likewise arranged; which are to be said in place of the foregoing Psalms of the Passion of the Lord from the Advent of the Lord until Christmas eve and not longer.

AT COMPLINE.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm. How long, O Lord (Ps. 12), as it is found in the Psalter.

AT MATINS.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm.

Ps. 85: 12. I will praise Thee, O Lord, most Holy Father, King of heaven and earth; because

Ps. 85: 17. Thou hast comforted me.

Ps. 24: 5. Thou art God my Saviour.

Ps. 11: 6. I will deal confidently and will not fear.

Ps. 117: 14. The Lord is my strength and my praise; and is become my salvation.

Exod. 15: 6. Thy right hand, O Lord, is magnified in strength; Thy right hand, O Lord, hath slain the enemy:

Exod. 15: 7. And in the multitude of Thy glory Thou hast put down Thy adversaries.

Ps. 68: 33. Let the poor see and rejoice: seek ye God and your soul shall live.

[p. 174]

Ps. 68: 35. Let the heavens and the earth praise Him: the sea and everything that creepeth therein.

Ps. 68: 36. For God will save Sion and the cities of Juda shall be built up. And they shall dwell there: and acquire it by inheritance.

Ps. 68: 37. And the seed of His servants shall possess it: and they that love His Name shall dwell therein.

AT PRIME.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm. Have mercy on me, etc.--as above, p. <page 159>.

AT TIERCE.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm. Shout with joy, etc.--as above, p. <page 169>.

AT SEXT.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm. May the Lord hear thee in the day, etc.--as above, <page 170>.

AT NONES.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm. In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped--as above, p. <page 171>.

AT VESPERS.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm. O clap your hands, etc.--as above, p. <page 164>.

Also note that the whole Psalm is not said but up to the verse, "Let all the earth be moved"; understand

[p. 175]

however that the whole verse "Bring your own bodies" must be said. At the end of this verse "Glory be to the Father" is said. And thus it is said daily at Vespers from Advent until Christmas eve.

CHRISTMAS DAY AT VESPERS.

Ant. Holy Mary.

Psalm.

Ps. 80: 2. Rejoice to God our helper.

Ps. 46: 2. Shout unto God, living and true, with the voice of triumph.

Ps. 46: 3. For the Lord is high, terrible: a great king over all the earth. For the most holy Father of heaven, our king, before ages sent His Beloved Son from on high and He was born of the Blessed Virgin, holy Mary.

Ps. 88: 27. He shall cry out to me: Thou art my Father;

Ps. 88: 28. And I will make Him My Firstborn, high above the kings of the earth.

Ps. 41: 9. In the day time the Lord hath commanded His mercy: and a canticle to Him in the night.

Ps. 117: 24. This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us rejoice and be glad in it. For the beloved and most holy Child has been given to us and born for us by the wayside.

[p. 176]

Luke 2: 7. And laid in a manger because He had no room in the inn.

Luke 2: 14. Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.

Ps. 95: 11. Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad, and let the sea be moved and the fulness thereof.

Ps. 95:12. The fields shall rejoice and all that are in them.

Ps. 95: 1. Sing to Him a new canticle; sing to the Lord, all the earth.

Ps. 95: 4. For the Lord is great and exceedingly to be praised: He is to be feared above all gods.

Ps. 95: 7. Bring to the Lord, O ye kindreds of the gentiles, bring to the Lord glory and honor.

Ps. 95: 8. Bring to the Lord glory unto His Name. Bring your own bodies and bear His holy cross and follow His most holy precepts even unto the end.

And note that this Psalm is said from Christmas until the octave of the Epiphany at all the Hours.








Footnotes

154:1 It was soon after the canonization of St. Clare, about 1256, that Celano undertook the task of compiling this legend by order of Alexander IV.

154:2 See Acta S.S., t. II, Aug., p. 761.

155:1 See Little in Opuscules, t. I, p. 276.

155:2 See Spec. Perf. (ed. Sabatier), p. cxcvi.

155:3 See Opuscules, t. I, p. 55. This MS. contains only the first part of the Office; it ends with the words the "Lord hath reigned."

155:4 See above, p. 3-4. Other MSS. containing the Office are enumerated by Wadding. See also Boehmer's Analekten.

155:5 See above, <page 139>.

155:6 See above, <page 141>.

166:1 The Oxford Codex here reads "until Easter Sunday."





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