Jon Sweeney has just published a new book about the beloved saint (and deacon!) from Assisi, whose feast we celebrate Monday. Think you know the saint? Check this out.
5 Things You May Not Know About Saint Francis of Assisi
By Jon M. Sweeney
- He stripped naked in public thrice. First, before his religious life began, while in Rome as a pilgrim, swapping clothes with a beggar. Second, before his father and the bishop and a crowd in Assisi, handing his clothes to his dad saying, “I now have only a Father in Heaven.” And third, when he was dying and asked his brother friars to lay him naked on the ground so he could feel the earth on his skin.
- He used the phrase “Mother Earth,” to praise, with gratitude, this planet. This is one way among many that he was ahead of his time – and why he’s the environmental saint.
- The night he died is called the “Transitus” by Franciscans. It’s a Latin word meaning “crossing.” Franciscans worldwide refer to the overnight period of October 3-4 as Francis’s Transitus, when he crossed over from death to new life.
- He didn’t write that famous “Peace Prayer.” Also known as “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,” the popular prayer, which is also a hymn in most church hymnals, is attributed to Francis but was in fact written a few years before the First World War, in France.
- Francis embraced the side of himself we usually associate with femininity. He was known for his gentleness and care for others. In one of his writings, he instructed his brothers to take turns being mothers to each other. And he asked his good friend, Brother Elias, to be a mother to him.
Curious for more? Read Jon Sweeney’s new book, Feed the Wolf: Befriending Our Fears in the Way of Saint Francis.