Fr Rohr – St. Francis Preaching to Birds

Giotto – St Francis Preaching to Birds,
fragment from St. Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata

Yesterday was the feast of St Francis, the patron saint of the order of Fr Richard Rohr. Here is a short meditation on the well known episode of St Francis preaching to birds.

* * *

Francis’ first sermon was not to humans, but to birds. At the end of the sermon, he told the birds, “Now, go off, because I’ve told you who you are.” And he was addressing them as equals in creation, calling them “brother” and “sister,” as no one recorded had ever done before!

Throughout his life in his interactions with creatures—including a wolf, a lamb, worms, fish and bees—Francis is always telling them that by their very existence they are inherently giving glory to God. All things should be who they truly are, and that is enough. Every animal must simply “do itself.” Each creature has a unique thing to do in the circle of life, and in that simple performance it is giving glory to a unique aspect of God and making us happy besides—at least I hope so.

I wonder if Francis preached to birds, to wolves, and to sheep because he knew they would believe him and act on their true identity more easily than we humans.

From In the Footsteps of Francis: Awakening to Creation webcast
(CD, DVD, MP3)


Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

One thought on “Fr Rohr – St. Francis Preaching to Birds”

  1. I did some reading on Fracesco d’Assissi because I had to write sometning on him but assuming that animals have the capacity to belive or not is a little too much. Unless what the authors wants to say is that we human beings should be more open to faith in God and love for our neighbour.


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