A rough soldier’s prayer (La Hire)

August 13, 2012

Portrait of Étienne de Vignolles called La Hire, drawn by J. Lecurieux

La Hire [was] the common name, meaning “the growler,” of Etienne de Vignolles (1387-1442), a rough, freebooting Gascon captain who became one of Joan of Arc’s devoted adherents. It is said that, under the Maid’s influence, he strove hard to give up swearing blasphemous oaths, but that, to give him some means of venting his hot temper, she allowed him to swear by his stick.

A remarkable prayer of La Hire’s has also been recorded. On his way to fight he met a priest and asked him for absolution from his sins. “Confess them first,” said the priest. “I’ve no time for that,” answered the soldier, “I have to fall upon the English. But I have done all that a man of war is accustomed to do.” The chaplain therefore gave him absolution, whereupon La Hire fell on his knees and prayed:

“God, I pray Thee that today Thou wilt do for La Hire that which Thou wouldst have La Hire do for Thee, if he were God and Thou wert La Hire.”

Grant Uden, A Dictionary of Chivalry (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1971), p. 167.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 203

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The Growler’s Prayer:

“God, I pray Thee that today Thou wilt do for the Growler that which Thou wouldst have the Growler do for Thee, if he were God and Thou wert the Growler.”

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