Feast of St. Francis

Today is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. One of the west’s best-loved saints, some scholars (like Edward A. Armstrong, author of St. Francis: Nature Mystic) speculate that Francis may have been influenced by the Celtic tradition.

Follow this link to read St. Francis’ Canticle of Brother Sun.

Two New Reference Books For You (or Your Library)
Beatrice of Nazareth: Seven Manners of Divine Love
Meet the Newest Doctor of the Church: Saint Gregory of Narek
Seven Essential Thomas Merton Books


  1. Happy Feast of Saint Francis!

    Way back when I was (or thought I was) a Methodist, my favorite hymn was one based on the Canticle of the Sun (All creatures of our God and king / Lift up your hearts and with us sing….)

    When I was writing my medieval-church book, I came across a great quote by Saint Francis; I didn’t use it in the book, though, and now I can’t find it again. It was something like “Pray all the time; use words only when necessary.” If you ever run across anything like this and think to let me know, I’d appreciate it.

    • Re: Happy Feast of Saint Francis!

      When did Francis say, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary”?

      This is a great quote, very Franciscan in its spirit, but not literally from St. Francis. The thought is his; this catchy phrasing is not in his writings or in the earliest biographies about him.

      In Chapter XVII of his Rule of 1221, Francis told the friars not to preach unless they had received the proper permission to do so. Then he added, “Let all the brothers, however, preach by their deeds.”

      A few years ago, someone used the Internet to contact some of the most eminent Franciscan scholars in the world, seeking the source of this “Use words if necessary” quote. It is clearly not in any of Francis’ writings. After a couple weeks of searching, no scholar could find this quote in a story written within 200 years of Francis’ death.

      • “Pray all the time; use words only when necessary.”
        “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”

        I am reminded of a plaque a once saw at the Shalem Institute, attributed only as a “Quaker proverb”:

        “Speak only when your words are an improvement on silence.”

  2. I also like the Prayer of St. Francis (Make me an instrument of your peace…)If everyone followed it the world would be a much better place!

  3. Fabulous – I love it. I would have to say St. Francis was one of the few I’ve truly appreciated over the years. Could you print this out and bring it tonight – I won’t be able to at work I don’t think. It would be lovely to share while we’re outside.

  4. A Request…..

    Totally off topic……But I was looking for some information on Brighid and pointed me in your direction. I hope you don’t mind.

    I am trying to research the origins of THE GENEALOGY OF BRIGHID. Would you happen to know where I might find some information on where this originated? A book…an author…a web-site….Anything that will get me started.

    Thank you in advance for your help.

    • Are you familiar with the Carmina Gadelica? It contains not only the “Genealogy of Bride” (#70) but also the “Womanhood of Brigit or Praises of Brigit” (#263) and the “Blessing of Brigit” (#264), both of which appear to be variations of the Genealogy.

      The Carmina Gadelica is an anthology of hymns and incantations collected in the highlands and islands of Scotland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by folklorist Alexander Carmichael. Today the work is controversial, for Carmichael’s notes and records were kept in a less-than-ideal fashion, and his detractors maintain that some of the material was actually fabricated by him. But all save his fiercest critics acknowledge that his anthology is, flawed or not, a treasure-trove of Gaelic folk religion. It is one of the chief sources of inspiration for my own spiritual path, which combines Catholic mysticism with Celtic wisdom.

      Well, hope this is helpful. Stay in touch.

  5. he is the sort of person who in some way
    is so universal that one can find parallels
    anywhere but I think as Chesterton points up
    the troubador tradition of provence is where
    he supremely fits…he is first of all
    a lover…

    • A few months ago, while reading G. K. Chesterton’s book, “Saint Francis of Assisi” (a rambling, chatty little book that really tells us more about Mr. Chesterton than it does about St. Francis), my cat Kato presented himself to me for the worship he is rightly due. He rubbed his furry catface against the book, bidding me to put down the book about the saint who loved animals and to commune with one such animal himself. So I patted his crown chakra in a rhythmic fashion, causing him to purr delightedly. Thus did I proclaim, “Glory be to thee, O Brother Cat!”

Leave a Comment