Anima Christi

The Anima Christi prayer has been on the fringes of my awareness for some time. But only fringes.

For a time, it was thought Ignatius Loyola composed it, as he cites it in the Spiritual Exercises, but that notion has been debunked, I believe.

Our associate pastor leads it after Communion at daily Mass, and I was surprised so many people know it by heart. The translation of it I found some months ago isn’t quite the same, so I find myself stumbling over the words.

The spirituality is a bit foreign, like the emphasis on the wounds of Christ. That’s not really part of mainstream Catholicism these days. (I think you can tell because the old timey cursing that references them is pretty much limited to Shakespeare.)

Here’s the petition:

Hide me in your wounds

And it caught my attention in a few ways. I asked myself, why would I want to be hidden? I suppose safety from danger, but doesn’t a disciple want to be out in the open? In Ignatius’s soldierly sensibility of honor, would he caution his followers to hide? There must be something more to these five words.

Yesterday when I was praying, I wasn’t particularly lamenting anything, I thought. But it’s been a demanding last few days–getting ready for a new semester always is. Plus my wife has had a rather bad spell as of late. Add a small tussle in the office over who should and should not sort incoming snail mail, and maybe I was primed for this insight:

Hide me in your wounds, so I don’t hide in mine.

Any devotees of the Anima Christi out there? What have you heard of this prayer?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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5 Responses to Anima Christi

  1. Liam says:

    I’ve known it for years. It dates at least to the 14th century. I love the prayer, and use it as one of my communion thanksgiving prayers, along with adapted versions of prayers by Aquinas and Bonaventure.

    “Within your wounds hide me” echoes the Psalmist’s petition to “shelter me beneath your wings”.

  2. claire46 says:

    It’s too gory for a young man I know. For me it is a sort of mantra, a closeness to Jesus on the cross. I thought it had appeared in the 12th c.

  3. nassauny says:

    My wife learned an English translation of Anima Christi in seventh grade during the 1940’s, diocese of Brooklyn parish school. Over the years, she has found it more and more prayerful. The translation was that of John Henry Newman.

  4. Maria Evans says:

    I use the modern translation which appears in the version of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius by David Fleming SJ.

  5. MC says:

    This prayer is one of my very favorites. I would very much recommend a book called ‘Anima Christi, Spirit of Christ’ by Mother Mary Francis, published by Ignatius Press, for meditating more deeply on each invocation of the prayer.

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