The saint who gave us this prayer is best known for his love of the poor.
While St. Francis is well known for his love of the poor and most vulnerable of society, he also had an intense love of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
In his Letter to All the Friars, St. Francis gave the following exhortation that clearly displays his passion,
Let the entire man be seized with fear; let the whole world tremble; let heaven exult when Christ, the Son of the Living God, is on the altar in the hands of the priest. O admirable height and stupendous condescension! O humble sublimity! O sublime humility! that the Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles Himself that for our salvation he hides himself under a morsel of bread.
Whenever he caught sight of a Catholic church in the distance, St. Francis was known to kneel down and give praise to God. Often he would say the following words that he passed on to his friars.
We adore you, O Lord Jesus Christ, in this church and all the churches of the world, and we bless you, because by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world. Amen
This little prayer was used by Franciscans for many centuries and over time it was adapted to become a “standard” prayer in the popular devotion known as the Stations of the Cross. Franciscans were instrumental in spreading this devotion throughout Europe and the United States and so it should come as no surprise that this prayer of St. Francis has become the main prayer for this devotion.
Typically the prayer is shortened to say, “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because, by your holy Cross you have redeemed the world.”
It is said at the beginning of each Station and is usually prayed while genuflecting.
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The next time you pray the Stations of the Cross, remember St. Francis and his passionate love of Jesus.