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Reflections:  On St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi

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Reflections: 

St. Francis Section:

On St. Francis of Assisi

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All Should Imitate St. Francis

Biographical Information

On the Writings / Sayings of St. Francis of Assisi

The Person of St. Francis of Assisi

Praise of St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis & Animals / Creation

St. Francis & Humility

St. Francis & Mortification

St. Francis & Obedience to the Pope

St. Francis & Poverty

St. Francis & Prayer

St. Francis & Suffering

St. Francis & The Blessed Virgin

St. Francis & The Cross

St. Francis & The Gloria Patri

St. Francis' Death

St. Francis Has Changed the World

St. Francis is a Faithful Image of Jesus

The 'St. Francis' of the Moderns is Not the True St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis / Reinforcement of the Church

St. Francis Was an Obedient Catholic

The Stigmata of St. Francis

Misc.

Note: Click here for 'Classic Encyclicals' on St. Francis of Assisi

Category
Quotation

All Should Imitate St. Francis 

"[E]veryone should, to the utmost of his power, aim at imitating St. Francis of Assisi" (Pope Leo XIII, "Auspicato Concessum", 1882)

"[B]y his practice of all the virtues in a heroic manner, by the austerity of his life and his preaching of penance, by his manifold and restless activity for the reformation of society, the figure of Francis stands forth in all its completeness, proposed to us not so much for the admiration as for the imitation of Christian peoples." (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

"St. Francis' spiritual journey was marked by this faithful following of the God-Man, whom he strove to imitate without reserve in self-denial and total self-emptying (cf. Phil 2:7). This makes him, as St. Bonaventure says, 'that most Christian pauper' par excellence (cf. Legenda major VIII, 5). This journey and following reached its climax on La Verna with the imprinting of the stigmata. That moment, even in the agony of his flesh, was his proclamation of victory, similar to what St. Paul referred to in the second reading we listened to a little while ago: 'I bear the marks of Jesus on my body' (Gal 6:17). The stigmatization on La Verna thus represents that visible conformity to the image of Christ which makes Francis the example to which every Christian can aspire in the process of drawing ever nearer to God the Creator and Redeemer. In this regard the words spoken by the Poverello at the end of his life are significant: 'I have done my duty; may Christ teach you yours' (St. Bonaventure, Legenda major XIV, 3)." (Pope John Paul II)

Also See: Praise of St. Francis of Assisi | St. Francis Has Changed the World

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Biographical Information

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On the Writings / Sayings of St. Francis of Assisi

"One of the most pleasing and most joyous songs ever heard in this vale tears is without doubt the famous 'Canticle of the Sun' of St. Francis. Now the man who composed it, who wrote it and sang it, was one of the greatest penitents, the Poor Man of Assisi, who possessed absolutely nothing on earth, and bore in his emaciated body the painful Stigmata of His Crucified Lord." (Pope Pius XI, "Caritate Christi Compulsi", 1932)

"An eloquent example of aesthetic contemplation sublimated in faith are, for example...is the ecstatic lauda, which Saint Francis of Assisi twice repeats in the chartula which he composed after receiving the stigmata of Christ on the mountain of La Verna: 'You are beauty...You are beauty!'." (Pope John Paul II)

St. Francis' writings have been described as "deceptively simple, yet marvelously profound."

Also See: Writings / Teachings of St. Francis of Assisi | Prayers of St. Francis

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The Person of St. Francis of Assisi

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Praise of St. Francis of Assisi

"Notwithstanding the long time that has elapsed since the death of the Seraphic Father, the admiration for him, not only of Catholics but even of non-Catholics, continues amazingly to increase for the reason that his greatness appears to the minds of men with no less splendor today than it did long ago." (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

"After defeating the threefold earthly enemy, he did violence to the kingdom of heaven and seized it by force (Mt 11:12). After many glorious battles in this life he triumphed over the world, and he who was knowingly unlettered and wisely foolish, happily returned to the Lord to take the first place before many others more learned." (Pope Gregory IX, Mira Circa Nos, 1228)

"The striking and immortal services rendered by Francis to the Christian cause, which have shown in him the defender whom God in such troubled times reserved for the Church, found, as it were, their coronation in the Third Order. Is there anything which proves more clearly the greatness and violence of the burning desire which consumed his soul to spread throughout the whole earth the glory of Jesus Christ?" (Pope Benedict XV, "Sacra Propediem", 1921)

"To bring light to the people of this world which We have described, and to lead them back to the pure ideals of the wisdom of the Gospels, there appeared, in the Providence of God, St. Francis of Assisi who, as Dante sang, 'shone as the sun' (Paradiso, Canto XI), or as Thomas of Celano had already written of a similar figure, 'he shone forth as a resplendent star on a dark night, like the morning which spreads itself over the darkness.' (Legenda I, No. 37)" (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

"Uncontested founder of the Third Order, as he was of the two first, Francis was for it, further, without doubt, the most wise legislator. We know that for this work he had the precious aid of Cardinal Ugolino, who later, under the name of Gregory IX, was to make illustrious this Apostolic See, and who, after having whilst he lived, maintained the closest relations with the Patriarch of Assisi, elevated later on his tomb a magnificent and sumptuous basilica." (Pope Benedict XV, "Sacra Propediem", 1921)

"The Gospel was his daily bread. He did not confine himself to reading its words, but through the expressions of the revealed text he set out to discover the One who is the Gospel itself. In fact, in Christ the divine economy is revealed in full: 'losing' and 'gaining' in their definitive, absolute sense. By his life Francis proclaimed and continues to proclaim today the saving word of the Gospel. It is difficult to find a saint whose message could withstand so deeply 'the test of time'." (Pope John Paul II)

"[T]he memory of so many benefits derived from him has never been lost at any time or in any place. On the contrary we find that his life and work, which as Dante writes can be sung better by those who enjoy the glories of heaven than by human tongue, has raised and exalted him century after century in the devotion and admiration of all so that not only is his greatness increasing in the Catholic world because of a remarkable appreciation of his great sanctity, but he is also surrounded by a certain civic cult and glory by reason of which the very name Assisi has become well known to the peoples of the whole world." (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

"[I]t seems necessary for Us to affirm that there has never been anyone in whom the image of Jesus Christ and the evangelical manner of life shone forth more lifelike and strikingly than in St. Francis. He who called himself the 'Herald of the Great King' was also rightly spoken of as 'another Jesus Christ,' appearing to his contemporaries and to future generations almost as if he were the Risen Christ. He has always lived as such in the eyes of men and so will continue to live for all future time. Nor is it marvelous that his early biographers, contemporaries of the Saint, in their accounts of his life and works, judged him to be of a nobility almost superior to human nature itself. Our Predecessors who dealt personally with Francis did not hesitate to recognize in him a providential help sent by God for the welfare of Christian peoples and of the Church." (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

Also See: All Should Imitate St. Francis | The Person of St. Francis of Assisi | St. Francis Has Changed the World | St. Francis is a Faithful Image of Jesus

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St. Francis & Animals / Creation 

Also See: Animals / Pets (Topic Page)

"[H]e not only loved but reverenced God in all his creatures." (G. K. Chesterton)

"For his was an extraordinary meekness, not only toward other people, but also toward animals. He called all animals 'brother' or 'sister' and we read in the story of his life how even wild animals came running to him as their friend and companion." (St. Bonaventure, Doctor of the Church)

"He is said to have made a journey to interview the Emperor, throned among his armies under the eagle of the Holy Roman Empire, to intercede for the lives of certain little birds. He was quite capable of facing fifty emperors to intercede for one bird." (G. K. Chesterton)

"The influence of the saints springs from their sanctity, as rays from the focus. No rich man ever possessed the earth to such a degree as this poor man, who, seeking God and depending absolutely upon His Providence, had regained the condition of Adam in Eden. Thus, as he passed along, the flocks would welcome him; the fishes would follow his boat in the water; the birds would gather around him, and joyfully obey him. And why? Francis drew all things to himself because all things drew him to God." (Liturgical Year)

"He seemed filled with a great and tender affection for animals, and 'no matter how small they were' he called them all 'by the name of brother and sister' - a love which if it is kept within bounds is assuredly not prohibited by any law. This love of animals was due to no other cause than his own love of God, which moved him to love these creatures because he knew that they had the same origin as he (St. Bonaventure, Legenda Maior, Chap VIII, No. 6) and in them all he perceived the goodness of God. St. Francis, too, 'saw the image of the Beloved imprinted on all things, and made of these things a ladder whereby to reach His throne.' (Thomas of Celano, Legenda, Chap. II, No. 165)" (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

"[I]t was with an 'unheard-of tenderness of devotion', says his son and historian Bonaventure, that Francis relished God's goodness in creation, contemplated His supreme beauty in every created beauty, and heard the echo of heaven's harmonies in the concert of being sprung like man himself from the only source of existence. Hence it was by the sweet name of brothers and sisters that he invited all creatures to praise with him that well-beloved Lord, whose every trace on earth was the dear object of his love and contemplation." (Liturgical Year)

"Some admired in him the character of the poet by which he so wonderfully expressed the sentiments of his soul, and his famous Canticle became the delight of learned men who recognized in it one of the first great poems of the early Italian language. Others were taken by his love of nature, for he not only seemed fascinated by the majesty of inanimate nature, by the splendor of the stars, by the beauty of his Umbrian mountains and valleys, but, like Adam before his fall in the Garden of Eden, Francis even spoke to the animals themselves. He appears to have been joined to them in a kind of brotherhood and they were obedient to his every wish." (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

"When he drew near to Bevagna, he came to a place where a great multitude of birds of different kinds were assembled together, which, when they saw the holy man, came swiftly to the place, and saluted him as if they had the use of reason. They all turned towards him and welcomed him; those which were on the trees bowed their heads in an unaccustomed manner, and all looked earnestly at him, until he went to them and seriously admonished them to listen to the word of the Lord, saying: 'Oh, my brother birds, you are bound greatly to praise your Creator, Who has clothed you with feathers, and given you wings wherewith to fly; Who has given you the pure air for your dwelling-place, and governs and cares for you without any care of your own.' While he spoke these and other such words to them, the birds rejoiced in a marvelous manner, swelling their throats, spreading their wings, opening their beaks, and looking at him with great attention. And he, with marvelous fervor of spirit, passing through the midst of them, covered them with his tunic, neither did any one of them move from his place until the man of God had made the sign of the Cross and dismissed them with his blessing when they all at once flew away. And all these things were seen by his companions, who were waiting for him on the road. When this pure and simple man returned to them, he began to accuse himself of negligence, because he had never before preached to the birds." (St. Bonaventure, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: St. Francis on Animals / Creatures | St. Francis & Animals (Animals in Church History) | Animals / Creation (Reflections) | Animals in Church History | St. Francis' Sermon to the Birds | Scripture for Animal Lovers | Prayers of St. Francis

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St. Francis & Humility 

"Humility, the guarding and ornament of all the virtues, had superabundantly filled Francis, the man of God. He thought of himself as nothing but a sinner, when in truth he was a mirror shining with all the reflections of holiness. Like the wise builder he had learned about from Christ, he wanted to build his own edifice on the foundation of humility." (St. Bonaventure, Doctor of the Church)

"St. Francis, following the example and words of Christ (Matt. xx, 26, 28; Luke xxii, 26), considered humility in his followers as the distinctive mark of his Order - namely, 'he insisted that his disciples be called 'Minors,' and the superiors of his Order 'Ministers.' He did this in order both to make use of the very language of the Gospels which he had promised to observe and to make his disciples understand by the name which they bore that they must go to the school of the humble Christ in order to learn humility.' (St. Bonaventure, Legenda Maior, Chap. VI, No. 5)" (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

"The author of that golden book The Imitation of Christ describes St. Francis in a word when he calls him 'humble.' 'For how much so ever each one is in thine eyes, O Lord, so much is he and no more, saith the humble St. Francis.' (Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chap. 50) In fact, it was the supreme wish of his heart to carry himself always with humility, as the least and last among men. Therefore, from the very beginning of his conversion, he ardently desired to be looked down upon and to be despised by all. Later on, although he became the Founder, the writer of their Rule, and the Father of the Friars Minor, he insisted that one of his followers should become the superior and master on whom even he was to depend. At the earliest possible moment, steeling himself against the prayers and wishes of his disciples, he desired to give up the supreme government of his Order 'in order to practice the virtue of holy humility' and to remain 'with her till death, living more humbly than any other friar.' (Thomas of Celano, Legenda, Chap. II, No. 143) Cardinals and great lords often offered him hospitality but he abruptly refused all such invitations. Though he exhibited the greatest esteem for all men and rendered each man every possible deference, he looked upon himself as a sinner, considering himself as only one among many sinners. In fact, he believed himself the greatest of all sinners. He was accustomed to say that if the mercy shown him by God had been given to any other sinner, the latter would have become ten times holier than he, and that to God alone must be attributed whatever was found in him of goodness and beauty, for from God only was it derived. For this reason he tried in every possible way to hide those privileges and graces, especially the stigmata of Our Lord imprinted on his body, which might have gained for him the esteem and praise of men. When at times he was praised, either in public or in private, he not only refused to accept such praise but protested that he was worthy only of contempt and abuse and was really saddened thereby. Finally, what must we say about the fact that he thought so humbly of himself that he did not consider himself worthy to be ordained a priest?" (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

Also See: The Person of St. Francis of Assisi | St. Francis on Pride / Humility 

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St. Francis & Mortification 

"It is also well known that our Saint, desiring to call back men so that they would conform their lives to the teachings of the Gospel, used to exhort them 'to love and fear God and to do penance for their sins.' (Legend of the Three Companions, No. 33 et seq) Moreover, he preached and invited all to penance by his own example. He wore a hair shirt, he was clothed in a poor rough tunic, went about barefoot, he slept resting his head on a stone or on the trunk of a tree, ate so little that it was barely sufficient to keep him from dying of starvation. He even mixed ashes and water with his food in order to destroy its taste. He passed the greater part of the year in fasting. Besides all this, no matter whether he was well or ill, he treated his body with the greatest severity; he used to call his body 'my brother the ass'; nor could he be induced to give himself any relief or rest, not even when, as during the last years of his life, he was suffering greatly, the sufferings of one nailed to a cross, for he had become like unto Christ because of the stigmata which he bore. Neither did he neglect to inculcate austerity of life in his disciples, and, in this only did 'the teachings of the Holy Patriarch differ from his own actions,' (Thomas of Celano, Legenda II, No. 129) he advised them to moderate a too excessive abstinence or punishment of the body." (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

Also See: St. Francis & Suffering | St. Francis is a Faithful Image of Jesus | St. Francis on Mortification

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St. Francis & Obedience to the Pope 

Also See: The Pope (Topic Page)

"No less reverence and docility towards the Apostolic See is shown by the words which St. Francis uses in commanding that a Cardinal Protector should be appointed for the Order: 'In obedience, I enjoin the Ministers to ask the Lord Pope for one of the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church to be the guide, protector and corrector of this Brotherhood; so that subordinate at all times and submissive, at the feet of the same Holy Roman Church, and thus firm in the Catholic Faith,...we shall observe, as we have faithfully promised to do, the holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.' (Rule of Friars Minor, passim)" (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

"The most important side of his obedience, however, is shown by the fact that as soon as the Seraphic Patriarch had drawn up and written out the rules of his Order, he delayed not even an instant in presenting himself personally, together with his first eleven disciples, to Innocent III, in order to gain the Pope's approval of his Rules. That Pontiff of immortal memory, moved deeply by the words and presence of the humble Poverello, embraced Francis with great affection and, divinely inspired, sanctioned the Rules presented to him." (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

"There are two lessons of the divine Master in particular that Francis followed with complete fidelity: obey the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth, venerate and imitate his most holy Mother Mary. The legitimation of his work in the Church, including the institution of a new religious order, depends entirely on the words of the first chapter of his rule: 'Brother Francis promises obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope'. In this same perspective, shortly before dying, he recommended to his brothers to 'keep the faith of the holy Roman Church' (St. Bonaventure, Legenda major XIV, 5). Then, too, St. Francis 'embraced the mother of the Lord Jesus with an indescribable love' for having made 'the Lord of Majesty our brother' and 'after Christ he put all his trust in her' (St. Bonaventure, Legenda major IX, 3). He imitated Mary in her meditative silence, especially after having been stamped by Christ, on this mountain, with the signs of his passion, thus showing that the greater the privileges God bestows, all the greater is the recipient's duty to conceal them. 'The evangelical man, Francis', St. Bonaventure tells us, 'came down from the mountain bearing with him the image of the Crucified...engraved in the members of his body by the finger of the living God'; 'aware that he had been given a royal secret, to the best of his powers he kept the sacred stigmata hidden' (Legenda major XIII, 5)." (Pope John Paul II)

Also See: St. Francis Was an Obedient Catholic | Writings / Teachings of St. Francis of Assisi

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St. Francis & Poverty 

"He who called nothing on earth his own, owned everything in God and God in everything." (St. Bonaventure, Doctor of the Church)

"The high ideals and generous love of poverty which possessed the mind and heart of Francis could not be satisfied by a mere renunciation of external wealth. Could one ever succeed in acquiring true poverty, following the footsteps of Jesus Christ, if he did not make himself also poor in spirit by means of the virtue of humility? Francis well understood this truth; he never separated one virtue from the other and greeted them both warmly: 'Holy Lady Poverty, may the Lord save you and your sister, Holy Humility.... Holy Poverty destroys all cupidity and avarice and anxiety for the things of this world. Holy Humility destroys pride, all men who are of the world, and all the things which are in the world.' (Opusculum, Salutatio Virtutum, p. 20 et seq., edition 1904)" (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

"On another occasion he was with a party of young men, singing in the streets after a gay banquet, when he stopped suddenly and, as if lifted outside himself by a wonderful vision, turned to his companions who had asked him if he was thinking of getting married and quickly replied, with some warmth, that they had guessed rightly because he proposed to take a spouse, and no one more noble, more rich, more beautiful than she could possibly be found, meaning by these words Poverty or the religious state which is founded on the profession of poverty. In fact, he had learned from Our Lord Jesus Christ Who, 'although he was rich made Himself poor for us' (II Corinthians viii, 9) that we, too, should become rich by His poverty, which is, in truth, divine wisdom; a wisdom which cannot be overthrown by the sophistries of human wisdom, a wisdom which alone can renew and restore all things. For Christ has said: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit; if thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me.' (Matt. v, 3, and Matt. xix, 21) Poverty, which consists in the voluntary renunciation of every possession for reasons of love and through divine inspiration and which is quite the opposite of that forced and unlovable poverty preached by some ancient philosophers, was embraced by Francis with so much affection that he called her in loving accents, Lady, Mother, Spouse. In this regard, St. Bonaventure writes: 'No one was ever so eager for gold as he was for poverty, nor more jealous in the custody of a treasure than he was of this pearl of the Gospel.' (Legenda Maior, Chap. VII) Francis himself, recommending and prescribing for his followers in the rule of his Order the exercise of this virtue in a very special manner, manifested the high esteem he had for poverty when he wrote these expressive words: 'This is the sublimeness of the highest poverty which made you, my dearest brothers, heirs and kings of the Kingdom of heaven, which made you poor in things of this world but enriched you with all virtue. This should be your heritage; to which, giving yourselves up entirely in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, nothing else will you desire forever under heaven.' (Rule of Friars Minor, Chap. VI) The reason why Francis particularly loved poverty was because he considered it a special virtue of the Blessed Virgin, and because Jesus Christ on the Cross, even more especially chose poverty for His spouse. Since then poverty has been forgotten by men and has appeared to the world both irksome and foreign to the spirit of the age. Often when thinking of these things, St. Francis used to break down and shed bitter tears. Who would not be moved at this spectacle of a man who was so much in love with poverty that he appeared to his former boon companions and, to many others besides, bereft of his senses? What are we to say then of the generations following him which, even if they are very far from an understanding and practice of evangelical perfection, yet are filled with admiration for so ardent a lover of poverty, an admiration that is continually on the increase and which is particularly noteworthy in the men of our own day? Dante anticipated this admiration of posterity in his poem 'The Nuptials of St. Francis and Poverty,' in which poem one finds it difficult which to admire more, the remarkable sublimity of the ideas expressed or the beauty and elegance of the style. (Paradiso, Canto XI.)" (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

Also See: St. Francis on Poverty

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St. Francis & Prayer

Also See: Catholic Prayer (Topic Page)

"Francis' safe haven was prayer, not prayer of a few minutes, or empty, presumptuous prayer, but prolonged prayer, full of devotion and the serenity of humility. If he began late, it would be dawn before hi finished. Whether waking, sitting, eating or drinking, he was rapt in prayer." (Celano)

Also See: Prayers of St. Francis | St. Francis & The Gloria Patri

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St. Francis & Suffering 

"[H]e said that in fasting or suffering humiliation he was but trying to do something of what Christ did" (G. K. Chesterton)

"He was full of the sentiment that he had not suffered enough to be worthy even to be a distant follower of his suffering God." (G. K. Chesterton)

"After having received the stigmata, Francis's life was an unspeakable martyrdom; in spite of which, he continued to travel through towns and villages, riding, like Jesus of whom he was so touching an image, upon a poor little ass; and everywhere he preached the cross, working miracles and wonders of grace." (Liturgical Year)

"[W]ith exceeding tenderness of compassion did he minister to all bodily sufferings, whether penury, or want of any kind, sweetly commending the sufferer to Christ. Marcy, indeed, was born with him, but it received a two-fold increase by the infused charity of Christ, for truly his soul melted within him at the sight of poverty and sickness; and the comfort which his hand was unable to bestow, he gave by the affection of his heart." (St. Bonaventure, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: St. Francis & Mortification | St. Francis & Poverty | St. Francis & The Cross | St. Francis' Death | St. Francis is a Faithful Image of Jesus | The Stigmata of St. Francis | St. Francis on Suffering / Trials / Infirmities

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St. Francis & The Blessed Virgin

Also See: Blessed Virgin Mary (Topic Page)

"Mary, the Virgin Mother of God...always rewarded the piety and the faith of her client [St. Francis] by heavenly protection and by particular gifts." (Pope Leo XIII, "Auspicato Concessum", 1882)

"Then, too, St. Francis 'embraced the mother of the Lord Jesus with an indescribable love' for having made 'the Lord of Majesty our brother' and 'after Christ he put all his trust in her' (St. Bonaventure, Legenda major IX, 3)." (Pope John Paul II)

"He bore unspeakable love for the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, because by her the Lord of Majesty became our Brother, and through her we have obtained mercy. In her, next to Christ, he placed his confidence: he took her for his advocate, and in her honor he was accustomed to fast devoutly, from the feast of the Apostles, Peter and Paul until the festival of the Assumption." (St. Bonaventure, Doctor of the Church)

"St. Francis embraced the Mother of Jesus with an inexpressible love because it was she who made the Lord of Majesty our brother. He composed special songs of praise in her honor, he poured out prayers and offered her his affection. He made her the Advocate of the Order and placed under her wings the sons he was about to leave, that she might cherish and protect them to the end." (Celano)

"There are two lessons of the divine Master in particular that Francis followed with complete fidelity: obey the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth, venerate and imitate his most holy Mother Mary. The legitimation of his work in the Church, including the institution of a new religious order, depends entirely on the words of the first chapter of his rule: 'Brother Francis promises obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope'. In this same perspective, shortly before dying, he recommended to his brothers to 'keep the faith of the holy Roman Church' (St. Bonaventure, Legenda major XIV, 5). Then, too, St. Francis 'embraced the mother of the Lord Jesus with an indescribable love' for having made 'the Lord of Majesty our brother' and 'after Christ he put all his trust in her' (St. Bonaventure, Legenda major IX, 3). He imitated Mary in her meditative silence, especially after having been stamped by Christ, on this mountain, with the signs of his passion, thus showing that the greater the privileges God bestows, all the greater is the recipient's duty to conceal them. 'The evangelical man, Francis', St. Bonaventure tells us, 'came down from the mountain bearing with him the image of the Crucified...engraved in the members of his body by the finger of the living God'; 'aware that he had been given a royal secret, to the best of his powers he kept the sacred stigmata hidden' (Legenda major XIII, 5)." (Pope John Paul II)

Also See: Prayers of St. Francis | St. Francis of Assisi's Greeting to Our Blessed Mother

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St. Francis & The Cross

"St. Francis' sole boast was the cross" (Pope John Paul II)

"St. Francis of Assisi raised the standard of the Cross anew in a world grown cold." (Gueranger)

"Thenceforth, amidst the effeminacy and over-fastidiousness of the time, he is seen to go about careless and roughly clad, begging his food from door to door, not only enduring what is generally deemed most hard to bear, the senseless ridicule of the crowd, but even to welcome it with a wondrous readiness and pleasure. And this because he had embraced the folly of the cross of Jesus Christ, and because he deemed it the highest wisdom. Having penetrated and understood its awful mysteries, he plainly saw that nowhere else could his glory be better placed." (Pope Leo XIII, "Auspicato Concessum", 1882)

"See, we are presented with him who authentically and profoundly 'boasted...of the cross of Christ'. Not of anything else; solely 'of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ' (cf. Gal 6:14). A sign of likeness in virtue of love. The Apostle Paul says this and Francis of Assisi repeats it: through Christ's cross and the power of love 'the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world' (Gal 6:14). The world does not want to be crucified: it flees the cross. People run away from being 'crucified to the world'. That is how it was in Francis' day, and it still is today. The struggle between the 'world' and the cross goes on forever; it is a battle with the cross of salvation!" (Pope John Paul II)

Also See: St. Francis & Mortification | St. Francis & Suffering | St. Francis' Death | The Stigmata of St. Francis | St. Francis on Suffering / Trials / Infirmities

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St. Francis & The Gloria Patri

Also See: Catholic Prayers (Topic Page)

"The Gloria Patri inspired St. Francis of Assisi with liveliest devotion. He could never tire of repeating it, and he exhorted everyone to say it frequently" (Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary)

Also See: St. Francis & Prayer | St. Francis on the Gloria Patri

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St. Francis' Death 

"Lo! Francis, he who was poor and lowly, enters, a rich man, into heaven: with their hymns the angels give him welcome. Alleluia." (Versicle)

"A man might fancy that the birds must have known when it happened; and made some motion in the evening sky. As they had once, according to the tale, scattered to the four winds of heaven in the pattern of a cross at his signal of dispersion, they might now have written in such dotted lines a more awful augury across the sky. Hidden in the woods perhaps were little cowering creatures never again to be so much noticed and understood; and it has been said that animals are sometimes conscious of things to which man their spiritual superior is for the moment blind. We do not know whether any shiver passed through all the thieves and the outcasts and the outlaws, to tell them what had happened to him who never knew the nature of scorn. But at least in the passages and porches of the Portiuncula there was a sudden stillness, where all the brown figures stood like bronze statues; for the stopping of the great heart that had not broken till it held the world." (G. K. Chesterton)

"On hearing that his death was approaching, and again a few minutes before he passed away, he sang, and would have others sing to him his favorite canticle: 'Praised be God, my Lord, for all creatures, and especially for our brother the sun, which gives us light, and is an image of Thee, my God! Praised be my Lord for our sister the moon; and for all the stars which He created bright and beautiful in the heavens! Praised be my Lord for our brother the wind; and for the air, and the clouds, and the fine weather, and all the seasons; for our sister the water, which is very useful, humble precious, and pure; for our brother the fire, which is bright and strong; for our brother the earth, which bears us, and produces the fruits and the flowers. Be Thou praised, O my God, for those who pardon and who suffer for love of Thee! Be Thou praised for our sister the death of the body, which no living man can escape; unhappy is he who dies in mortal sin; but happy is he whom death finds conformed to Thy will! Praise and bless my Lord, give Him thanks, and serve Him in great humility.'" (Liturgical Year)

"Certain birds which love the light, and have a great horror of darkness, at the hour of the holy man's transit from earth, which was the time at which twilight is wont to set in, came in great multitudes over the roof of the house, and flew round and round it joyfully for a long time together, giving clear and joyous testimony to the glory of the Saint who had been want to invite them to sing the praises of God." (St. Bonaventure, Doctor of the Church)

Also See: St. Francis & Suffering | St. Francis on Death | St. Francis' Death (Facts)

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St. Francis Has Changed the World 

"[H]e has lived and changed the world." (G. K. Chesterton)

Also See: Praise of St. Francis of Assisi | St. Francis / Reinforcement of the Church

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St. Francis is a Faithful Image of Jesus

Also See: Jesus (Topic Page)

"In truth what is in hand definitely is, by imitation of Francis of Assisi to open to the greatest possible number of souls the way which will lead them back to Christ; it in this return that resides the firmest hope of salvation for society. The word of St. Paul, 'Be my imitators, as I myself am of Christ' (I Cor. xi.; i), we can with good right put upon the lips of Francis, who, in imitating the Apostle, has become the most faithful image and copy of Jesus Christ." (Pope Benedict XV, "Sacra Propediem", 1921)

"The difference between Christ and St. Francis was the difference between the Creator and the creature; and certainly no creature was ever so conscious of that colossal contrast as St. Francis himself. But subject to this understanding, it is perfectly true and it is vitally important that Christ was the pattern on which St. Francis sought to fashion himself; and that at many points their human and historical lives were even curiously coincident; and above all, that compared to most of us at least St. Francis is a most sublime approximation to his Master, and, even in being an intermediary and a reflection, is a splendid and yet merciful Mirror of Christ." (G. K. Chesterton)

"By his numerous virtues, then, and above all by his austerity of life, this irreproachable man endeavored to reproduce in himself the image of Christ Jesus. But the finger of Providence was again visible in granting to him a likeness to the Divine Redeemer, even in externals. Thus, like Jesus Christ, it so happened that St. Francis was born in a stable; a little child as he was, his couch was of straw on the ground. And it is also related that, at that moment, the presence of angelic choirs, and melodies wafted through the air, completed this resemblance. Again, like Christ and His Apostles, Francis united with himself some chosen disciples, whom he sent to traverse the earth as messengers of Christian peace and eternal salvation. Bereft of all, mocked, cast off by his own, he had again this great point in common with Jesus Christ, he would not have a corner wherein he might lay his head. As a last mark of resemblance, he received on his Calvary, Mt. Alvernus (by a miracle till then unheard of) the sacred stigmata, and was thus, so to speak, crucified. We here recall a fact no less striking as a miracle than considered famous by the voice of hundreds of years. One day St. Francis was absorbed in ardent contemplation of the wounds of Jesus crucified, and was seeking to take to himself and drink in their exceeding bitterness, when an angel from heaven appeared before him, from whom some mysterious virtue emanated: at once St. Francis feels his hands and feet transfixed, as it were, with nails, and his side pierced by a sharp spear. Thenceforth was begotten an immense charity in his soul; on his body he bore the living tokens of the wounds of Jesus Christ. Such miracles, worthy rather of the songs of angels than of the lips of men, show us sufficiently how great was this man, and how worthy that God should choose him to bring back his contemporaries to Christian ways." (Pope Leo XIII, "Auspicato Concessum", 1882)

Also See: The Person of St. Francis of Assisi | Praise of St. Francis of Assisi | St. Francis & Humility | St. Francis & Mortification | St. Francis & Poverty | The Stigmata of St. Francis

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The 'St. Francis' of the Moderns is Not the True St. Francis of Assisi

Also See: Modernism (Topic Page)

"That which matters now is to replace before all eyes the true moral physiognomy of St. Francis. The St. Francis of Assisi whom certain moderns present to us, and who springs from the imagination of the Modernists, this man, guarded in his obedience to the Apostolic See, a specimen of a vague and vain religiosity, is assuredly neither Francis of Assisi nor a saint." (Pope Benedict XV, "Sacra Propediem", 1921)

Also See: St. Francis & Obedience to the Pope | St. Francis Was an Obedient Catholic | Writings / Teachings of St. Francis of Assisi

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St. Francis / Reinforce-

ment of the Church

"Behold the man 'in whose time the house of God was renovated and in whose days the temple was reinforced' (Sir 50:1). This man is named Francis: a 'new man, sent to the world by heaven' (St. Bonaventure, Legenda maior, XII, 8)." (Pope John Paul II)

"Francis of Assisi...remains in tradition, in literature, in art; 'as the one who repaired the temple and fortified the sanctuary'. As the one who considered how to save his people from ruin and fortified the City to withstand a siege' (Sir 50:4)." (Pope John Paul II)

"In fact, his work of reform has permeated so deeply Christian peoples that besides re-establishing purity of faith and of morals it has resulted in this, that even the laws of justice and of evangelical charity now more profoundly inspire and guide social life itself." (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

"It was undoubtedly a super-human voice that bade St. Francis, when near the church of St. Damian, 'Go thou and uphold my tottering house.' Nor is the heavenly vision which presented itself to the gaze of Innocent III less worthy of admiration, wherein it seemed to him that St. Francis was supporting on his shoulders the falling walls of the Lateran Basilica. The object and meaning of such manifestations are evident; they signified that St. Francis was to be in those times a steadfast protector and pillar of Christendom. Nor, in truth, did he delay about his task." (Pope Leo XIII, "Auspicato Concessum", 1882)

Also See: Praise of St. Francis of Assisi | St. Francis Has Changed the World | St. Francis Was an Obedient Catholic

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St. Francis Was an Obedient Catholic 

"We have seen how the Seraphic Father, motivated by the idea of perfect poverty which had taken complete possession of his soul, made himself so small and humble as to obey others (it would be better to say almost everyone) with the very simplicity of a child, for the reason that he who does not deny himself and give up his own will, certainly cannot be said to have renounced all things or to have become humble of heart. St. Francis by his vow of obedience consecrated gladly and submitted fully his will, the greatest gift which God has bestowed on human nature, to the will of the Vicar of Jesus Christ. What evil they do and how far from a true appreciation of the Man of Assisi are they who, in order to bolster up their fantastic and erroneous ideas about him, imagine such an incredible thing as that Francis was an opponent of the discipline of the Church, that he did not accept the dogmas of the Faith, that he was the precursor and prophet of that false liberty which began to manifest itself at the beginning of modern times and which has caused so many disturbances both in the Church and in civil society! That he was in a special manner obedient and faithful in all things to the hierarchy of the Church, to this Apostolic See, and to the teachings of Christ, the Herald of the Great King proved both to Catholics and non-Catholics by the admirable example of obedience which he always gave. It is a fact proven by contemporary documents, which are worthy of all credence, 'that he held in veneration the clergy, and loved with a great affection all who were in holy orders.' (Thomas of Celano, Legenda, Chap. I, No. 62) 'As a man who was truly Catholic and apostolic, he insisted above all things in his sermons that the faith of the Holy Roman Church should always be preserved and inviolably, and that the priests who by their ministry bring into being the sublime Sacrament of the Lord, should therefore be held in the highest reverence. He also taught that the doctors of the law of God and all the orders of clergy should be shown the utmost respect at all times.' (Julian a Spira, Life of St. Francis, No. 28) That which he taught to the people from the pulpit he insisted on much more strongly among his friars. We may read of this in his famous last testament and, again, at the very point of death he admonished them about this with great insistence, namely, that in the exercise of the sacred ministry they should always obey the bishops and the clergy and should live together with them as it behooves children of peace." (Pope Pius XI, "Rite Expiatis", 1926)

Also See: Biographical Information | St. Francis & Obedience to the Pope | Writings / Teachings of St. Francis of Assisi

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The Stigmata of St. Francis

"The stigmata which Francis received in this place, La Verna, are a particular sign. They are the deepest witness of the Poverello's truth." (Pope John Paul II)

"The stigmata, the scars of Christ's passion on Francis' body, were the special sign which revealed the cross that he took up every day, in the most literal sense of the word." (Pope John Paul II)

Also See: St. Francis & Suffering | St. Francis & The Cross | St. Francis on Pain | St. Francis on Suffering / Infirmities / Trials | St. Francis' Stigmata (Facts)

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