St Francis of Assisi

Patron saint of the environment

Pope John Paul’s statement 6/04/1980 Easter Sunday “St Francis was an example of genuine & deep respect for the integrity of creation…he invited all creation: animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun & Sister Moon…to give honour & praise to the Lord.”

  • Universal appeal
  • World Religions meeting – Oct 27th – 1986– Assisi – World Day of Prayer for World Peace

Significance for Inter-Faith dialogue:

a. First such event – huge step for Roman Catholicism – given its background

b. Not Jerusalem/ Constantinople/ Mecca/ Kathmandu/ Rome or Canterbury –

c. But Assisi…

Relevance for today – especially for Ecology:

Climate Institute in Australia – “A Common Belief” – Aug 3rd – 2007 – affirmed by: Aboriginal religion/ Anglicans/ Australian Christian Lobby/ Baptists/ Buddhists/ Catholics/ Evangelical Alliance/ Greek Orthodox/ Hindus/ Jews/ Lutherans/ Muslims/ Salvation Army/ Sikhs/ Uniting Church – ST FRANCIS WOULD APPROVE!

St Francis contact with Islam

  • Fifth Crusade – 1219 – Sultan Melek-el-Khamil
  • St Francis reinterpretation of the Crusades – NON VIOLENCE
  • Influence of Islam on St Francis –
  • Respect for written word of God
  • Regular prayer/ tolling of the bells – call to prayer/ muezzin


A Franciscan Approach to our Mother – The Earth

Francis – An Inter & Inner-connected Human Being

  • A faith centred person
  • Self evident! Awesome man of faith – “O Lord, give me a right faith, a firm hope & a perfect love – so that I may always act according to Your most holy will.”
  • A mystical person
  • An “alter Christus” – reincarnation of Christ – the Christ of Umbria
  • Stigmata – 1224 – La Verna
  • The Incarnation of Jesus – central to his faith – Greccio/ Christmas crib tradition
  • Incarnation central to his view of all Creation = Mother Earth
  • Human Beings- especially the fringe dwellers & marginalised (lepers)


St Francis – How would he respond today?

  • Change personal attitudes & then behaviours = conversion = ecological conversion – Peace Prayer sums it up!
  •  Seek justice & be a peacemaker
  • Compassion – in action – for all of God’s creatures – Wolf of Gubbio
  • Rebuild & revitalise relationships between divided groups – e.g.: mayor & bishop of Assisi dispute


The Canticle of All Creatures –“Brother Sun & Sister Moon”


  • Composed 1226 – end of life/sickness & pain
  • Italian vernacular – 1st e.g. of evolving Italian language – deeply mystical & Christian – Colossians/ Ephesians Ch 1 – Hymn to Universe a poem/song of UniversalityDeclaration on the Environment – Pope John Paul II & Patriarch of Constantinople – Bartholomew I/ June 2002

“It is not too late; God’s world has incredible healing powers. Within a single generation, we could steer the earth toward our children’s future. Let that generation start now. With God’s help & blessing.”

Given the context of this series of lectures: The 40th anniversary of Earthrise – first human view of the earth from deep space” – Pope John Paul II remarked when he saw the photo: From the time we were first able to see pictures of the world from space, a perceptible change has taken place in our understanding of our planet and of its immense beauty & fragility.” World Day of Peace message – Jan 1st 1987