Anima Christi

views updated


Also known as Aspirationes Sancti Ignatii, by virtue of St. ignatius of loyola's frequent recommendations of this prayer in his Spiritual Exercises. But, since he always quoted only the opening words, the Anima Christi must have been already quite well known in his time. That it was known as early as the 14th century is evident from several sources: a manuscript (now in the British Museum) written in England c. 1370 states that John XXII granted 3,000 days indulgence for the saying of this prayer under certain conditions; the text of the prayer is carved on the wall of the palace of the Alcazar in Andalusia, done probably about 1364; it is known that Margaret Ebner (d. 1351), a mystic of Swabia, was familiar with the prayer. That it was quite well known throughout Europe by the 15th century is evident from its frequent appearance in books of hours and other devotional books of that century (see prayer books). The author of the prayer is unknown. It has been attributed to Pope John XXII because of the many extraordinary indulgences he attached to it, and also to Bl. Bernardine of Fletre, OFM (143994), although the prayer was well known before his time. The suggestion that St. Thomas Aquinas composed the Anima Christi seems unlikely, since no 13th-century manuscript containing it has been found, and it has no special place in Dominican devotion, as has, for example, the Lauda Sion and the Adoro te, the former composed by St. Thomas and the latter frequently attributed to him. The existing manuscripts have interesting variations, the invocations Sudor vultus Christi, defende me and Sapientia Christi, doce me occurring in some.

Bibliography: h. thurston, "The Anima Christi," The Month 125 (1915) 493505; Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. viller et al. (Paris 1932) 1:670672. m. viller, "Aux Origines de la prière Anima Christi," Revue d'ascétique et de mystique 11 (1930) 208209. p. schepens, "Pour l'histoire de la prière Anima Christi," Nouvelle revue théologique 62 (1935) 699710.

[m. j. barry]