Adoro Te Devote

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A rhymed prayer marked by deep personal faith and theological insight, and addressed to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Although never a part of the Breviary, it appeared in various collections of popular devotions until Pope pius v inserted it in the Roman Missal among the prayers of thanksgiving after Mass. All extant MSS attribute the poem to St. thomas aquinas; however, his authorship has been contested. No MS is known from the first 50 years after Aquinas's death, nor does anyone during that time refer to Thomas as its author. Two of the 14th century codices state that Thomas composed or recited the prayer on receiving Viaticum. On this point the silence of the saint's biographer, William de Tocca, is significant. Dom André wilmart, who made the most thorough study of the manuscript and literary tradition of the Adoro Te, concluded that documentary evidence is insufficient to affirm Aquinas's authorship. Furthermore, some theologians doubt Thomistic origin because of divergences of thought and expression between the Summa and this poem. However, M. grabmann has maintained the genuineness of authorship because all MSS indicate it, and in his judgment the poem breathes the Eucharistic theology of Aquinas. F. Raby pointed out that a certain poem of jacopone da todi (written c. 128094) would be unexplainable had the Adoro Te not existed. Although this fact does not prove Thomistic origin, it makes possible the assigning of a date that falls within the lifetime of Thomas (d. 1274). In Raby's opinion the earliest MSS may be correct in stating that Aquinas wrote the Adoro Te, even if they report incorrectly the circumstances of its composition. There are many English translations. One of the most effective is that of Gerard Manley Hopkins beginning "Godhead here in hiding, Whom I do adore."

Bibliography: a. wilmart, "La Tradition littéraire et textuelle de l'Adoro te devote, " Recherches de Théologie ancienne et médiévale 1 (1929) 2140, 149176; repr. with appendices in Auteurs spirituels et textes dévots du Moyen Âge latin (Paris 1932) 361414. f. j. e. raby, "The Date and Authorship of the Poem Adoro Te Devote, " Speculum 20 (1945) 236238. m. grabmann, Die Werke des heiligen Thomas von Aquin (3d ed. Münster 1949) 367370, with refs. cited in nn. 184186. j. p. cavarnos, "Greek Translations of the Adoro Te Devote and the Ave Verum, " Traditio 8 (1952) 418423.

[m. i. j. rousseau]