Category Archives: Francis’ Words

Penance and St. Francis

By Bret Thoman, OFS

Though he found it necessary to moderate his early rigor because of his infirmity, he would still say: “Let us begin, brothers, to serve the Lord God, for up to now we have made little or no progress.” He did not consider that he had laid hold of his goal as yet, and persevering untiringly in his purpose of attaining holy newness of life, he hoped always to make a beginning. (Thomas of Celano, 2nd Life, chapter 6-??)

These were the words that St. Francis said towards the end of his life as he was already sick. They are surprising when we recall that Francis was already considered a saint and had accomplished monumental things in his life. Yet Francis always wanted to do more for God; he was constantly reflecting on his life, what he had done, and what he could do.

And all of us should step back and reflect on our own lives: on what we have done, where we have been, what has happened. As we do that, we consider what we are doing and where we are going. These reflections are important because they help us see what is blocking us in our lives from God – where we have turned away. When we practice this, we can have a clearer vision of where God is calling us. Then we can turn back to him. This is penance.

St. Francis of Assisi thoroughly devoted himself to penance as a way of life. The word penance, however, has various meanings and associations. For some, penance means denying one’s self some sort of pleasure; for others it recalls the name of the sacrament now usually referred to as “reconciliation”; for others it is punishment for committing a sin; or it could be the action assigned to the penitent by the priest during the sacrament of reconciliation. All are correct. But for Francis of Assisi, penance had a deeper meaning: it meant conversion.

As a young man, Francis of Assisi dreamed of becoming a knight. Inspired by tales of chivalry, Francis was enthusiastic to fight for a cause, a lord, and a lady. He dreamed of being counted as one of the same order of the Templars, Lancelot, Tristan, or etc. However, while en route to do battle in the Crusades, Francis heard God’s voice in a dream in Spoleto. God asked him whether it was better to serve the Lord or a servant: “Francis, who can do more for you, the Lord or his servant, a rich man or a beggar?” Francis responded that a lord or a rich man could do more. Then he was asked by the voice, “Then why are you serving the servant?” Francis asked, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” The voice responded, “Go back to your home and you will be shown what to do.” In Francis’s first encounter with the Lord, he was challenged to examine the direction he was going in his life, make a decision, and go in a different direction. At that point, Francis renounced his pursuit of war and returned to Assisi. This was the beginning of his conversion.

Though firmly convinced he was not supposed to continue pursuing the military life of a knight, Francis did not know what he was supposed to do next. Yet, one thing was clear: Francis began to do things differently. Just a short time before, Francis was known for being lavish, a squanderer, boisterous. The Legend of the Three Companions wrote this of Francis:

Francis grew up quick and clever, and was also intent on games and songs; and day and night he roamed about the city of Assisi with companions of his own age. Yet with the help of God’s grace, even when he was with his jovial companions, although always ready to enjoy himself, he never followed the lure of his passions. He was a spendthrift, and all that he earned went into eating and carousing with his friends. For this his parents often remonstrated with him, saying that in squandering such large sums on himself and others, his style of living made him appear not so much their son as the son of some great prince. However, being rich and loving him tenderly, they allowed him free rein in order to avoid displeasing him. In all things Francis was lavish, and he spent much more on his clothes than was warranted by his social position. He would use only the finest materials; but sometimes his vanity took an eccentric turn, and then he would insist on the richest cloth and the commonest being sewn together in the same garment.

However, after his return to Assisi from the dream in Spoleto, the Sources reveal that he began performing the following actions:
Ascetic practices: Francis began wearing a hair-shirt, fasting, and engaging in other corporal disciplines.

Solitary prayer: Francis began withdrawing to caves and isolated places outside of Assisi with a companion for prayer and reflection.
Giving alms: Francis gave money, clothes, and food to the poor, and he bought furnishings for churches. According to the sources, Francis had always been generous, but now his largesse took on religious meaning.

Pilgrimage: On a pilgrimage to Rome, Francis took a large handful of coins and threw them over the tomb of St. Peter; before returning to Assisi, he traded clothes with a beggar, now not only giving to the poor, but identifying with them and becoming one of them.

Re-building churches: After selling his father’s horse and cloth in Foligno, Francis begins re-building the church of San Damiano; he later re-built San Pietro della Spina near Rivotorto in the valley, and the Portiuncula/St. Mary of the Angels. (This will be taken up in the next lesson.)

Serving lepers. This will be taken up fully in the next chapter.

In these actions, Francis was doing things differently; he was converting. He was moving away from one way of life and embracing another. This was his life of penance. And in this, he was not original; in fact, he was embracing a way of life that had been around for many centuries. An excellent book describing the history of the penitential movement in the Church and in the origins of the Franciscan movement is “St. Francis and the Third Order” by Raffaele Pazzelli, TOR.

Pazzelli notes that the origins of the practice of penance are found in the Bible. In the original Greek language of the New Testament, John the Baptist and then Jesus insist that their listeners have a metanoia. The Greek translation says, “Metanoeite!” which translated literally means to change one’s mind or heart. This phrase was translated into the Latin Vulgate Bible as “Paenitentiam agite!” (literally, “do penance”). Then, the words were translated into English as repent.

In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ (Matthew 3: 1-2).

From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ (Matthew 4:17)
So we see that the biblical meaning of the word “repent”, which has the same root as the word “penance” means metanoia, change of heart, conversion.

And this biblical meaning of penance is the same as Francis’s understanding of penance; i.e., the turning away from sin and having a conversion of heart. In fact, Francis wrote in the first line of his Testament, written just two years before he died, that he began to do penance by serving lepers. “The Lord granted me, Brother Francis, to begin to do penance in this way: While I was in sin, it seemed very bitter to me to see lepers. And the Lord Himself led me among them and I had mercy upon them. And when I left them that which seemed bitter to me was changed into sweetness of soul and body; and afterward I lingered a little and left the world.” Thus, in Francis’s experience with the lepers, we clearly see not just an external action or a corporal discipline, but a change of heart – a metanoia. His heart was changed through his actions. Through his embrace of the leper, Francis says that his bitterness was changed into sweetness, and he was transformed. Thus, for him penance was not merely an external act, but it was an act accompanied by an internal change of heart. Penance changed him and brought him closer to God. It should also be said that his heart was not changed without the action; rather, the change of heart followed, and was consequential of, the action.

So after returning to Assisi from Spoleto, and later separating from his father, Francis thoroughly dedicated himself to penance. And after Francis’s first followers joined him, they, too, took up this penitential life. When asked who they were, Francis and his followers referred to themselves as penitents from Assisi. It was not until they went to Rome and were granted oral approval of their way of life by Pope Innocent III in 1209 that they began calling themselves Fratres Minores (Friars Minors). Soon after this important meeting, Francis’s fledgling group of penitents would emerge from the penitential movement, and become established as a distinct Order within the Church: the Order of Friars Minor.

Let’s look a little more closely at the specific ways in which Francis practiced penance. In addition to his work with the lepers, Francis (and Clare) practiced corporal penances, which were often quite harsh: Francis often mixed his food with ashes or bitter herbs to kill the taste, while Clare ate very little; Francis commonly wore a hair-shirt (a rough garment worn on the skin underneath the habit), while Clare wore a small rectangle of horsehair under her tunic; they deprived their bodies of sleep; Francis sometimes slept on stones while Clare slept on a bed of vine-branches or the bare floor using rocks for pillows; Francis frequently responded to temptation by rolling around naked in thorn bushes or snow. Thomas of Celano said that Francis subjected himself to severe disciplines and called his body “Brother Ass” (i.e. donkey). (2 Celano, 97). Francis wrote in his Letter to the Faithful: “All those who love the Lord with their whole heart … and hate their bodies with their vices and sins … produce worthy fruits of penance.” In the 10th Admonition, he wrote, “Many people, when they sin or receive an injury, often blame the Enemy or a neighbor, but this is not right, for each one has the real enemy in his own power; that is, the body through which he sins.”

These corporal penances practiced by Francis, Clare and their followers should more precisely be called asceticism. In this, we should distinguish between penance (the biblical metanoia described above), and asceticism (self-mortification). It is true that Francis and the early Franciscans regularly practiced asceticism as a form of penance, but penance was not limited to asceticism; for Francis, penance meant conversion.

So why were they so harsh? First, we should not judge history, especially eight centuries ago, through the lens of today; rather, we should look at it in its historical context. It is important to take into consideration the medieval class structure. Life was cruel in the middle Ages, and was nasty, brutish, and short. It was a little easier on the upper classes of the nobility, but doubly harsh for the peasants. Since the Franciscans embraced poverty centered on the experience of the poor, crucified Christ, much of the way the early Franciscans lived was modeled after the way poor peasants lived. Thus, they sought to imitate Christ and the poor by living like them; they sought to live out penance and asceticism as personal sacrifices in already harsh conditions.

Sometimes asceticism is confused with dualism, i.e. the spirit is good, while the body is bad. Early Franciscan asceticism was not dualistic. The heretical Cathars or Albigensians did embrace dualistic beliefs, and their beliefs were widespread in Francis’s era. They, too, embraced poverty, but not for the same reason as Francis; rather, they judged creation and the body to be evil. Thus, they did not want to possess anything material for fear that such attachments would corrupt them. Francis believed that creation and material things were good, since they were created by God. (cf. Genesis 1:1-31). In particular, the human person was good, as it was created in the image of God (ibid.). In the 5th Admonition Francis wrote, “God had created you and formed you to the image of his beloved Son according to the body, and to his likeness according to the spirit.” For this reason he had a fraternal affection for all creation and considered people, animals, and all of creation his brothers and sisters. This will be taken up in a later chapter.

So what did Francis mean when he spoke negatively about the body? When he referred to the body, he really meant the flesh. The understanding of “body” in the sense of “flesh” is taken from Holy Scripture. Paul wrote, “I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other…” (Galatians 5: 16-17) Further, Paul wrote: “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness… In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (ibid. 19-23; cf. also Eph 4: 22-24; Romans 8: 1-13). Thus, Francis believed at the same time that the body was good, yet sin resided within its flesh. Thus, he practiced corporal penances and asceticism seeking to discipline, even quell the flesh.

Further, Francis and the early Franciscans practiced asceticism because they believed that sin was the result of an inordinate attachment to worldly things. While fervently believing that the world was good, they believed that too strong an attachment to the things of the world could lead to sin. In fact, the seven deadly sins (pride, greed, lust, gluttony, ire, sloth, and envy) are natural God-given instincts taken to the extreme. By disciplining the body, or flesh, which they recognized as housing sin, they were seeking to free themselves of vices in order to live in the Spirit. They were not punishing their bodies because they believed them to be evil; rather, through self-mortifications, they were seeking to detach themselves from the things of the world, avoid vices, and be free to practice virtues.

Francis’s primary form of penance was working with the lepers. This is a topic that will be taken up in detail in the next chapter. We might judge that he struggled with pride before his conversion. The sources say that he often sought to look good in fine clothes, he wanted to impress people by becoming a knight, he enjoyed feasts and parties, etc. (cf. Legend Three Companions, Chap. 1). However, these vices kept him rooted to worldly things. They prevented him from being able to freely experience, enjoy, and love God. Thus, once he discovered the humility that was required for him to work with lepers, his pride was leveled and he was forced to become humble. Through working with lepers, Francis was freed of his vices, and he could love and more freely enjoy God. And so great was the spirituality he experienced through that humble service, he continued to work with lepers all his life, and he established leprosaria throughout all of Italy. He even required that new friars work with lepers as fundamental to their formation.

So how are we now to understand the strict penances practiced by the early Franciscans? The first thing is that we continue to understand penance as a metanoia – a call to conversion – which is its biblical meaning. Then, we attempt to integrate penance into our lives today in the 21st century. To live as Francis and Clare lived eight centuries ago may not be necessary, practical or even possible today. However, we can certainly let their experiences shape and mold our lives today. We can seek to imitate Francis and Clare in their penances, however without engaging in extremism.

First, we should remember that penance is at its root an act or acts that lead to metanoia – conversion. Paragraph 1435 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Conversion is accomplished in daily life by gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice and right, by the admission of faults to one’s brethren, fraternal correction, revision of life, examination of conscience, spiritual direction, acceptance of suffering, endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness. Taking up one’s cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance.” (cf. Luke 9:23). In this list, there are numerous ways of practicing acts of penance leading to a conversion.

Penance, sacrifices, and ascetic practices help us to avoid vice and grow in virtue. They reform the human condition that is naturally inclined towards selfishness and self-centeredness, and they create the interior freedom that allows the soul to re-orient itself towards others. We can be inspired by the experience of Francis, Clare, and the early Franciscans who experienced a radical and full metanoia. Without falling into Phariseeism – showing off external mortifications in order to receive praises from the people – (cf. Matthew 6:2), or without engaging in extremism, we can discover in them what true penance is: metanoia, another way of saying conversion.

While I have dedicated this chapter to penance as it relates to Francis, I do want to briefly mention Clare, who also committed her life to penance and conversion. In a departure from the life of Francis, however, it would appear that Clare never had a radical conversion moment like him – a “leper encounter” as an adult. In the previous chapter, I introduced her childhood, and we saw that she had always lived the holy life concerned with helping the poor as far back as her childhood. Ioanni di Ventura of Assisi was a watchman at her family’s household while she was a girl. He testified as the 20th witness in Clare’s canonization process saying that “she saved the food [she was] given to eat, put it aside, and then sent it to the poor.” He also said that “she fasted, prayed, and did other pious deeds…and that it was believed she had been inspired by the Holy Spirit from the beginning.” Sr. Ramona Miller says that “Clare’s spiritual journey had begun in her own home and her deeds indicated that she had chosen to live as a penitent: performing personal ascetical practices, prayer and acts of charity, especially making contributions of money and food to the poor.” Thus, we see that Clare always practiced a life of virtue concerned with holiness and the poor.

It should be said that there are some who have theorized that Clare and the sisters served lepers together with Francis and the friars in the first few years following her entrance into religious life at San Damiano in 1212. It is plausible, as the leper hospital of San Lazarus was not far from San Damiano. The theory goes that after the first Rule was written by Cardinal Hugolino in 1219, the sisters were forced into monastic claustration. However, if this theory were true, it seems strange to me that there is no written documentation regarding Clare serving lepers. Nevertheless, we do know that Clare regularly served people who came to San Damiano. For example, the Canonization process is filled with stories of how Clare prayed over and cured people who came to San Damiano seeking healing of various ailments. The sixth witness testified that “she saw others who had been brought to the monastery to be cured by the holy mother. She made the sign of the cross over them and they were cured.” We will talk more about Clare’s spirituality as a sister in San Damiano in the next unit.

4 Cf. The Twentieth Witn.ess, lines 3-5 taken from “Clare of Assisi: (The Lady) Early Documents,” p. 195. Cf. also the 1st, 2nd, 17th, 18th, and 19th witnesses

5 Miller, Ramona. In the Footsteps of St. Clare: A Pilgrim’s Guide Book. p. 2.

6 For more information on these issues and the early form of life of St. Clare, cf. Ranft Patricia. “The Appeal of the Vita Apostolica,” pp. 61-77. In Women and the Religious Life in Pre Modern Europe. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1996; Petroff, Elizabeth. “A Medieval Woman’s Utopian Vision: The Rule of St. Clare of Assisi,” pp. 66-79. In Body and Soul: Essays on Medieval Women and Mysticism. NY: Oxford University Press, 1994.

7 There was a letter written by Cardinal Jacques de Vitry, a fervent supporter of women’s religious movements such as the Beguines in northern Europe. While traveling through the Umbrian Valley in 1216, he wrote a letter describing the men and women known as the “Lesser Brothers and Lesser Sisters.” He says, “They go into the cities and villages during the day, so that they convert others, giving themselves to active work; but they return to their hermitages or solitary places at night, employing themselves in contemplation.” The Latin text is unclear whether “they” refers to the men and women, or just the men; I have seen it translated both ways.

8 Cf. also the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 9th, and 10th witnesse.s
Cf. The Twentieth Witn.ess, lines 3-5 taken from “Clare of Assisi: (The Lady) Early Documents,” p. 195.
Cf. also the 1st, 2nd, 17th, 18th, and 19th witnesses

Canticle of the Sun



Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce 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 splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility.

Office of the Passion St. Francis of Assisi

Francis before crucifix

Francis before crucifix


In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Our 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; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty, who is and who was and who is to come.

Let us praise and glorify him above all forever. Lord our God, you are worthy to receive praise and glory and honor and blessing

Let us praise and glorify him above all forever. The Lamb who was slain is worthy to receive power and divinity and wisdom and strength, and honor and glory and blessing.

Let us praise and glorify him above all forever.Let us bless the Father and the Son with the Holy Spirit:

Let us praise and glorify him above all forever. Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord

Let us praise and glorify him above all forever.Sing praise to our God, all you his servants and you who fear God, the small and the great.

Let us praise and glorify him above all forever. Let heaven and earth praise him who is glorious

Let us praise and glorify him above all forever. And every creature that is in heaven and on earth and under earth and in the sea and those which are in them.

Let us praise and glorify him above all forever. Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:

Let us praise and glorify him above all forever. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Let us praise and glorify him above all forever.
Let us pray All-powerful, most holy, most high, and supreme God: all good, supreme good, totally good, You who alone are good; May we give you all praise, all glory, all thanks, all honor: all blessing, and all good things. So be it. So be it. Amen.

Then before beginning the appropriate psalm, the following antiphon is recited:
Antiphon Holy Virgin Mary, among women, there is no one like you born into the world: you are the daughter and the servant of the most high and supreme King and Father of heaven, you are the mother of our most holy Lord Jesus Christ, you are the spouse of the Holy Spirit.
Pray for us with Saint Michael the Archangel and all the powers of the heavens and all the saints
to your most holy beloved Son, the Lord and Master.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.


PSALM 1 God, I have told you of my life you have placed my tears in your sight (Ps 55:8b-9). All my enemies were planning evil things against me (Ps 40:8a) and they have taken counsel together (cf. Ps 70:10c). They repaid me evil for you and hatred for my love (cf. Ps 108:5). In return for my love they slandered me but I kept praying (Ps 108:4). My holy Father (Jn 17:11), King of heaven and earth, do not leave me since trouble is near and there is no one to help (Ps 21:12).
Let my enemies be turned back on whatever day I shall call upon You; for now I know that You are my God (Ps 55:10).My friends and my neighbors have drawn near and have stood against me and those who were close to me have stayed far away (Ps 37:12). You have driven my acquaintances far from me
they have made me an abomination to them, I have been handed over and I have not fled! (Ps 87:9).Holy Father (Jn 17:11), do not remove your help from me (Ps 21:20); my God, look to my assistance (cf. Ps 70:12).
Come to my help Lord, God of my salvation (Ps 37:23).Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

PSALM 2 Lord,
God of my salvation I cry to you by day and by night (Ps 87:2).
Let my prayer enter into your sight incline Your ear to my prayer (Ps 87:3).
Look to my soul and free it ransom me from my enemies (Ps 68:19).
Since it is you who drew me out of the womb, you, my hope from my mother’s breasts, I am cast upon you from the womb (Ps 21:10).
From the womb of my mother you are my God do not depart from me (Ps 21:11).
You know my disgrace, and my confusion, and my shame (Ps 68:20).
All those who trouble me are in Your sight and my heart has expected abuse and misery (Ps 68:2la-b).
And I looked for someone who would grieve together with me and there was none and for someone who would console me and I found none (Ps 68:21 c-d).
O God, the wicked have risen against me and they have sought my life in the assembly of the mighty and they have not placed you in their sight (Ps 85:14).
I am numbered among those who go down into the pit; I have become as a man without help, free among the dead (Ps 87:5-6a).
You are my most holy Father my King and my God (cf. Ps 43:5a).
Come to my help Lord, God of my salvation (Ps 37:23).
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me since my soul places its trust in you (Ps 56:2a).
And I will hope as I stay under the shadow of your wings until wickedness passes by (Ps 56:2b).
I will cry to my most holy Father, the most high, to the Lord, who has done good to me (cf. Ps 56:3).
He has sent from heaven and delivered me. He has disgraced those who have trampled upon me (Ps 56:4a-b).
God has sent his mercy and his truth. He has snatched my life (Ps 56:4c-5a) from the strongest of my enemies
and from those who hated me since they were too strong for me (Ps 17:18). They have prepared a trap for my feet and have bowed down my soul (Ps 56:7a-b).
They have dug a pit before my face and themselves have fallen into it (Ps 56:7c-d).
My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready. I will sing and recite a psalm (Ps 56:8).
Arise, my glory, arise psalter and harp, I will arise at dawn (Ps 56:9).
I will praise You among the peoples, O Lord, I will say a psalm to you among the nations (Ps 56:10).
Since your mercy is exalted even to the skies and your truth even to the clouds (Ps 56:11).
Be exalted above the heavens, O God, and may your glory be above all the earth! (Ps 56:12).
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Have mercy on me, O God, for man has trampled me underfoot all the day long they have afflicted me and they fight against me (Ps 55:2).
My enemies trample upon me all the day long since those who wage war against me are many (Ps 55:3).
All my enemies have been thinking evil things against me they set an evil plan against me (Ps 40:8b-9a).
Those who guarded my life have conspired together (Ps 70:10b).
They went forth and spoke together (Ps 40:7).
All those who see me laugh at me and they have spoken with their lips and have shaken their heads (Ps 21:8).
I am a worm and no man, the scorn of men and the outcast of the people (Ps 21:7).
I have been made a reproach to my neighbor sexceeding all of my enemies a fear for my acquaintances (Ps 30:12a-b).
O holy Father (Jn 17:11), do not keep your help from me but look to my defense (Ps 21:20).
Come to my help, Lord, God of my salvation (Ps 37:23).
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now,
and will be forever. Amen.

PSALM 5I I cried to the Lord with my voice with my voice I made supplication to the Lord (Ps 141:2).
I pour out my prayer in his sight and I speak of my trouble before him (Ps 141:3).
When my spirit failed me you knew my ways (Ps 141:4a-b).
On the path on which I walked the proud have hidden a trap for me (Ps 141:4c-d).
I looked to my right and I saw and there was no one who knew me (Ps 141:5a-b).
I have no means of escape and there is no one who cares for my life (Ps 141:5c-d).
Because of you I have sustained abuse while confusion covers my face (Ps 68:8).
I have been made an outcast to my brothers and a stranger to the children of my mother (Ps 68:9).
Holy Father (Jn 17:11), zeal for your house has consumed me and the abuses of those who have attacked you
have fallen upon me (Ps 68:10).
And against me they have rejoiced and have united together and many scourges were heaped upon me and I knew not why (Ps 34:15).
More numerous than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause (Ps 68:5a-b).
Those who persecute me unjustly, my enemies, have been strengthened must I then restore what I did not steal? (Ps 68:5c-d).
The wicked witnesses who rise up have interrogated me about things of which I am ignorant (Ps 34:11).
They repaid me evil for good (Ps 34:12a) and they harassed me because I pursued good (Ps 37:21).
You are my most holy Father my King and my God (Ps 43:5).
Come to my help, Lord, God of my salvation (Ps 37:23).
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

All of you who pass along the way look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow (Lm 1:12a—b).
For many dogs have surrounded me a pack of evildoers has closed in on me (Ps 21:17).
They have looked and stared upon me they have divided my garments among them and for my tunic they have cast lots (Ps 21:18b—19).
They have pierced my hands and my feet they have numbered all my bones (Ps 21:17c—18a).
They have opened their mouth against me like a lion raging and roaring (Ps 21:14).
I am poured out like water and all of my bones have been scattered (Ps 21:15a—b).
And my heart has become like melting wax in the midst of my bosom (Ps 21:15c).
My strength is dried up liked baked clay and my tongue clings to my jaws (Ps 21:16a-b).
And they have given gall as my food and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink (Ps 68:22).
And they have led me into the dust of death (cf. Ps 21:16c) and they have added grief to my wounds (Ps 68:27b).
I have slept and have risen (Ps 3:6) and my most holy Father has received me with glory (cf. Ps 72:24c).
Holy Father (Jn 17:11), you have held my right hand and you have led me with your counsel (Ps 72:24).
For what is there in heaven for me and besides you what do I want on earth (Ps 72:25)?
See, see that I am God, says the Lord I shall be exalted among the nations and I shall be exalted on the earth (cf. Ps 45:11).
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel (Lk 1:68a), who has redeemed the souls of his servants with his very own most holy Blood and who will not abandon all who hope in him (Ps 33:23).
And we know, for he comes, for he will come to judge justice (cf. Ps 95:13b).
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.  

The antiphon is repeated Antiphon Holy Virgin Mary, among women, there is no one like you born into the world: you are the daughter and the servant of the most high and supreme King and Father of heaven, you are the mother of our most holy Lord Jesus Christ, you are the spouse of the Holy Spirit.
Pray for us with Saint Michael the Archangel and all the powers of the heavens and all the saints to your most holy beloved Son, the Lord and Master.Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Then follows the dismissal
Let us bless the Lord, the living and true God; to Him let us always render praise, glory, honor, blessing, and every good. Amen. Amen. So be it. So be it.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Hail O Lady

Hail O Lady,
Holy Queen,
Mary, holy Mother of God:
You are the virgin made church
And the one chosen by the most holy Father in heaven
whom He consecrated
With His most holy beloved Son
And with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, in whom there was and is
All the fullness of grace and every good.

Hail, His Palace!
Hail, His Tabernacle!
Hail, His Home!
Hail, His Robe!
Hail, His Servant!
Hail, His Mother!

And, [hail] all you holy virtues which through the grace and light of the Holy Spirit are poured into the hearts of the faithful so that from their faithless state you may make them faithful to God.

The Considerations on the Holy Stigmata

Through the gift of this grace of God that was in him, St. Francis was not only rapt in God in ecstatic contemplation, but he was also sometimes consoled by visitations of angels.

One day while he was thinking about his death and the state of his Order when be was no longer alive, and he was saying, “Lord God, after my death what will happen to Your poor little family which in Your kindness You entrusted to this sinner? Who will console them? Who will correct them? Who will pray to You for them?” and similar words, an angel sent by God appeared to him and consoled him by saying: “I tell you on behalf of God that your Order will last until Judgment Day. And no one, no matter how great a sinner he is, will fail to obtain mercy from God if he has a heartfelt love for your Order. And no one who from malice persecutes your Order will be able to live long. Moreover, no one in your Order who is very evil and who does not amend his life will be able to persevere in the Order. Therefore do not grieve if you see some friars in your Order who are not good and who do not observe the Rule as they should. And do not think then that your Order is declining, because there will always be very many in it who will perfectly observe the Gospel life of Christ and the purity of the Rule. And immediately after their earthly life they will go to eternal life without passing through Purgatory at all. Some will live the life less perfectly, and they will be purified in Purgatory before they go to Paradise, but the period of their purgation will be entrusted to you by God. But do not worry about those who do not keep your Rule at all, says God, because He does not care about them.”

Now why those holy Stigmata were imprinted on St. Francis is not yet entirely clear. But as he himself told his companions, this great mystery is reserved for the future.

Brother Leo told this account to Brother James of Massa, and Brother James of Massa told it to Brother Ugolino di Monte Santa Maria, and Brother Ugolino, a good and trust-worthy man, told it to me who am writing.

During that seraphic apparition Christ, who appeared to St. Francis, spoke to him certain secret and profound things which the Saint was never willing to reveal to anyone while he was alive, but after his death he revealed them, as is recorded further on. And these were the words: “Do you know what I have done?” said Christ “I have given you the Stigmata which are the emblems of My Passion, so that you may be My standard-bearer. And as I descended into Limbo on the day when I died and took from there by virtue of these Stigmata of Mine all the souls that I found there, so I grant to you that every year on the day of your death you may go to Purgatory and by virtue of your Stigmata you may take from there and lead to Paradise all the souls of your Three Orders, that is, the Friars Minor, the Sisters, and the Continent, and also others who have been very devoted to you, whom you may find there, so that you may be conformed to Me in death as you are in life.”
Source: Little Flowers of St. Francis