I learned “Lord, make me an instrument of they peace”...and I’m 70 and a life long Catholic.
The French version uses the word : un instrument de votre paix.
Some translate it “instrument” some translate it “channel”
Why French and not Latin or Italian? It has something to do with how its origin.
The first appearance of the Peace Prayer occurred in France in 1912 in a small spiritual magazine called La Clochette (The Little Bell). It was published in Paris by a Catholic association known as La Ligue de la Sainte-Messe (The Holy Mass League), founded in 1901 by a French priest, Father Esther Bouquerel (1855-1923). The prayer bore the title of ‘Belle prière à faire pendant la messe’ (A Beautiful Prayer to Say During the Mass), and was published anonymously. The author could possibly have been Father Bouquerel himself, but the identity of the author remains a mystery.
The prayer was sent in French to Pope Benedict XV in 1915 by the French Marquis Stanislas de La Rochethulon. This was soon followed by its 1916 appearance, in Italian, in L’Osservatore Romano [the Vatican’s daily newspaper].
Around 1920, the prayer was printed by a French Franciscan priest on the back of an image of St. Francis with the title ‘Prière pour la paix’ (Prayer for Peace) but without being attributed to the saint. Between the two world wars, the prayer circulated in Europe and was translated into English. Its has been attributed the first time to saint Francis in 1927 by a French Protestant Movement, Les Chevaliers du Prince de la Paix (The Knights of the Prince of Peace), founded by Étienne Bach (1892-1986).
The first translation in English that we know of appeared in 1936 in Living Courageously, a book by Kirby Page (1890-1957), a Disciple of Christ minister, pacifist, social evangelist, writer and editor of The World Tomorrow (New York City). Page clearly attributed the text to St. Francis of Assisi. During World War II and immediately after, this prayer for peace began circulating widely as the Prayer of St. Francis, specially through Francis cardinal Spellman’s books, and over the years has gained a worldwide popularity with people of all faiths.