Now that we have a Pope named Francis, and all sorts of people are making references to St. Francis of Assisi in an attempt to pigeonhole this new Pope, we should consider who Francis of Assisi really was, what he did and said. He wasn’t the bunny-hugging bird kisser that people think he was from their viewings of garden statues and Brother Sun, Sister Moon. (Remember that?)
St. Francis of Assisi, some think, was a medieval peacenik. However, Francis went to the Egypt and confronted Sultan al-Kamil, a nephew of Saladin. Here is the account of his words from “Verba fratris Illuminati socii b. Francisci ad partes Orientis et in conspectu Soldani Aegypti“, Codex Vaticanus Ott.lat.n.552:
The same sultan submitted this problem to him: “Your Lord taught in his gospels that evil must not be repaid with evil, that you should not refuse your cloak to anyone who wants to take your tunic, etc. (Mt 5,40): All the more Christians should not invade our land!”. And Blessed Francis answered: “It seems to me that you have not read the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in its entirety. In fact it says elsewhere: “if your eye causes you sin, tear it out and throw it away” (Mt 5 , 29). With this, Jesus wanted to teach us that if any person, even a friend or a relative of ours, and even if he is dear to us as the apple of our eye, we should be willing to repulse him, to weed him out if he sought to take us away from the faith and love of our God. This is precisely why Christians are acting according to justice when they invade the lands you inhabit and fight against you, for you blaspheme the name of Christ and strive to turn away from his worship as many people as you can. But if you were to recognize, confess, and worship the Creator and Redeemer, Christians would love you as themselves instead”.”
Think of this the next time you are called upon to sing that ditty that starts with: “Make me a channel of your peace”. From the fine Francis of Assisi: A New Biography by Augustine Thompson.
“Peace Prayer of Saint Francis”—a popular hymn best known by its opening words “Make me a channel of your peace,” and sung to a tune written by the Anglican composer Sebastian Temple. Many are quite shocked to find that this song is not identical to Francis’s “Canticle of Brother Sun,” from which Zefferelli took the name of his movie. The “Peace Prayer” is modern and anonymous, originally written in French, and dates to about 1912, when it was published in a minor French spiritual magazine, La Clochette. Noble as its sentiments are, Francis would not have written such a piece, focused as it is on the self, with its constant repetition of the pronouns “I” and “me,” the words “God” and “Jesus” never appearing once.