Why are modern prayers attributed to famous or historical figures?
by maggi dawn
Yesterday I posted the prayer that is commonly attributed to Sir Francis Drake, though highly unlikely to have been written by him. Inspired by him, maybe? So far I haven’t found any clear provenance for the prayer but from its linguistic style I would guess it’s no older than 15-20 years. If you know anything about it, do let me know!
It’s well known that the internet is humming with misquotes and false attributions. But a number of prayers that pre-date the internet are incorrectly attributed to famed or historical figures. Why would that be?
The Prayer of St Francis (Lord, make me a channel of your peace) was first published in French in 1912. The story of how the prayer came about is here, but I have not yet discovered why it became attributed to Francis. Does anyone know how that happened?
The prayer of Oscar Romero (“We are ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own,”) was written by an American priest, Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, to be included in the draft of a homily given by Cardinal John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. Five months later Romero was assassinated, which may account for how the prayer became linked with him. Untener later wrote in a book of reflections a piece for the anniversary of Romero’s martyrdom, entitled “The mystery of the Romero Prayer,” the mystery being that though the words of the prayer are attributed to Romero, they were neither written nor spoken by him. Close to his death, he told the story of the prayer’s provenance in a letter to Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, who reported the story In the March 28, 2004 edition of the National Catholic Reporter. More on the story here.