from The Life of St. Francis by Thomas of Celano, c.1229
Who could ever express the deep affection Francis bore
for all things that belong to God?
Or who would be able to tell
of the sweet tenderness he enjoyed
while contemplating in creatures
the wisdom, power, and goodness of the Creator?
From this reflection
he often overflowed
with amazing, unspeakable joy
as he looked at the sun,
gazed at the moon, or observed the stars in the sky.
What simple piety!
What pious simplicity!
Even for worms he had a warm love, since he had read this text about the Saviour: I am a worm and not a man. That is why he used to pick them up from the road and put them in a safe place so that they would not be crushed by the footsteps of passersby.
What shall I say about the other lesser creatures? In the winter he had honey or the best wine put out for the bees so that they would not perish from the cold. He used to extoll the artistry of their work and their remarkable ingenuity, giving glory to the Lord. With such an outpouring, he often used up an entire day or more in praise of them and other creatures. Once the three young men in the furnace of burning fire invited all the elements to praise and glorify the Creator of all things [Daniel 3, 51-90], so Francis, full of the spirit of God never stopped glorifying, praising and blessing the Creator and Ruler of all things in all the elements and creatures.
How great do you think was the delight the beauty of flowers brought to Francis' soul whenever he saw their lovely form and noticed their sweet fragrance? He would immediately turn his gaze to the beauty of that flower, brilliant in springtime, sprouting from the root of Jesse. By its fragrance it raised up countless thousands of the dead. Whenever he found an abundance of flowers, he used to preach to them and invite them to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason.
Fields and vineyards,
rocks and woods,
and all the beauties of the field,
flowing springs and blooming gardens,
earth and fire, air and wind:
all these he urged to love God and to willing service.
Finally, he used to call all creatures
by the name of "brother" and "sister"
and in a wonderful way, unknown to others,
he could discern the secrets of the heart of creatures
like someone who has already passed
into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
O good Jesus,
with the angels in heaven
he now praises you as wonderful,
who, when placed on earth,
preached you as lovable to all creatures.
Br. Thomas of Celano was an early follower of Francis and his movement, and was the first to write a life of St. Francis. Being the first written account of Francis' life, written only two or three years after Francis died, this work holds a place of honour and celebrates St. Francis' memory.
- St. Francis