Praying with the Poetry of the Mystics

St. Francis Public Domain Image
St. Francis
Public Domain Image

Get to know the mystics! The mystics are saints in the Catholic Church who have had visions and personal experiences with the presence of God in their lives. Many of the Saints have written of their love of God. It can be contagious!


The following five poems are written by mystics of the Catholic Church. They are inspired by their own personal relationship and experience of God. Because their joy could not be kept to themselves, they became radiant lights to the world.


The different types of prayer are petition, intercession, thanksgiving, adoration, praise and glory. Their poetry uses all these types of prayer and can help lead us to a personal relationship with God.


St. Francis was born in Assisi, Italy in 1181. He is known for his love of animals and the suffering. He is the founder of the Franciscan Order. While praying in front of a crucifix, Jesus spoke to him saying, “Francis, rebuild my church!”


St. Teresa of Avila was born in Spain in 1515. She helped reform the Carmelite order. The poem in this collection shares one of her experiences during prayer.


St. Catherine of Siena was born in 1347. She began having visions as a young child pertaining to heaven and hell.


Bernard of Clairvaux was born in 1090 in Burgundy France. He wrote a treatise called Degrees of Humility and Pride which analyzed the human character. He also wrote many hymns.


St. Augustine was known for his conversion during the fourth century. He became a famous bishop. His poem Beauty ever ancient and so new is well known.


Learning about the spirituality of the saints can help us develop our own prayer life. Meditating on these prayers will change the course of your life.



St. Francis with Birds Public Domain Image
St. Francis with Birds
Public Domain Image

Canticle of the Creatures


All Praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, bright, and precious, and fair.


All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brothers wind and air, and fair and stormy, all the weather’s moods, by which you cherish all that you have made.


All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water, so useful, humble, precious and pure.


All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten up the night. How beautiful is he, how cheerful! Full of power and strength.


All praise be yours, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains us and governs us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.


All praise be yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy are those who endure in peace, by You, Most High, they will be crowned.


All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death, from whose embrace no mortal can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your will! The second death can do them no harm.


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


St. Francis of Assisi


St. Augustine of Hippo by Sandro Botticelli Public Domain Image
St. Augustine of Hippo
by Sandro Botticelli
Public Domain Image


Beauty so ancient and so new


Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved you!


Lo, you were within,
but I outside, seeking there for you,


and upon the shapely things you have made
I rushed headlong – I, misshapen.
You were with me, but I was not with you.


They held me back far from you,
those things which would have no being,
were they not in you.


You called, shouted, broke through my deafness;
you flared, blazed, banished my blindness;


you lavished your fragrance, I gasped; and now I pant for you;
I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst;


you touched me, and I burned for your peace.


St. Augustine


St. Bernard of Clairvaux Public Domain Image
St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Public Domain Image


O Sacred Head Surrounded


O sacred head, surrounded by crown of piercing thorn!

O bleeding head, so wounded, reviled and put to scorn!

Death’s pallid hue comes over you the glow of life decays, yet angel hosts adore thee and tremble as they gaze.


I see thy strength and vigor all fading in the strife, and death with cruel rigor, bereaving thee of life;

O agony and dying!

O love to sinners free!


Jesus, all grace supplying, O turn thy face on me.

In this thy bitter passion, Good Shepherd, think of me, with thy most sweet compassion, unworthy though I be,

beneath thy cross abiding forever would I rest, in they dear love confiding and with they presence blest.


St. Bernard of Clairvaux


St. Catherine of Siena Public domain Image


Consumed by Grace


I first saw God when I was a child, six years of age.


the cheeks of the sun were pale before Him,


and the earth acted as a shy girl, like me.


Divine light entered my heart from His love
that did never fully wane,


though indeed, dear, I can understand how a person’s
faith can at time flicker,


for what is the mind to do
with something that becomes the mind’s ruin:


a God that consumes us
in His grace.


I have seen what you want;
it is there,


a Beloved of infinite


St. Catherine of Siena

St. Teresa of Avila Public Domain Image
St. Teresa of Avila
Public Domain Image


Laughter came from every brick


Just these two words He spoke changed my life,


Enjoy Me!.


What a burden I thought I was to carry, a crucifix, as did He.


Love once said to me,

“I know a song, would you like to hear it?”


And laughter came from every brick in the street and from every pore in the sky.


After a night of prayer,


He changed my life when He sang,


“Enjoy Me!”


St. Teresa of Avila




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