Possibly inspired by the simple life of St. Francis of Assisi, the popular Peace Prayer of St. Francis was probably not written by the saint since it first appeared in writing almost 700 years after his death.

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,” the first line of the prayer, reflects the spirit of St. Francis, who during his life advocated gentleness, peace, humility and respect among people, but the author of the prayer is unknown.

According to American Catholic magazine, the first publication of the prayer occurred in 1912 in a small spiritual publication in Paris put out by “The Holy Mass League,” founded by a French priest, Father Esther Bouquerel.

The prayer was titled “Belle Priere a Faire Pendant la Messe,” “A Beautiful Prayer to Say during the Mass” and was published anonymously. Some experts think Father Bouquerel may be the author.

The prayer was sent to Pope Benedict XV in 1915 and shortly after was printed in Italian in L’Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of the Vatican.

Four years later the prayer was printed on the back of an image of St. Francis and carried the title “Prayer for Peace.” Although the prayer was not attributed to St. Francis on the holy card, it quickly became known as the Peace Prayer of St. Francis as it circulated through Europe.

The prayer was translated in English and first appeared in 1936 in “Living Courageously,” a book by Kirby Page, a Disciple of Christ minister, who attributed the text to St. Francis. During the Second World War the prayer spread widely as the Peace Prayer of St. Francis.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;

To be understood, as to understand;

To be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

And, it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.