When the sixth centenary of the death of St. Francis occurred in 1826, the occasion passed with very little comment. The Poverello or Poor Little Man of Assisi had somehow lost his appeal in the centuries after the Reformation. The ‘Enlightenment’ or ‘Age of Reason’ had little time for a barefoot saint from Assisi.
Voltaire (1694-1778), who seems to speak for that whole period in history, dismissed St. Francis as ‘a raving lunatic who goes about stark naked, talks to animals, catechises a wolf and makes himself a snow-wife!’
And yet, times change. When the seventh centenary of the death of St. Francis was marked in 1926 it was a very different story. Books were written, pilgrimages were made to Assisi, conferences and studies and poems and novels began to spring up everywhere. The Poor Little Man of Assisi was, once again, embraced by the world.
What will the world say of the Poverello in 2026, when the eighth centenary of the death of St. Francis is celebrated?
No doubt many will discover again the genius of this most warm-hearted saint. St. Francis has a message for each age and it is a timeless message; it is nothing less than ‘the marrow of the Gospel’, lived joyfully and simply, and in fraternity.
Franciscans of every kind are giving thanks for the life of St. Francis today. We are conscious that this is our time and the concerns and problems of people today are the wounds we are asked to attend to.
May St. Francis pray for all the brothers and sisters who live as Franciscans all over the world today.
If you feel an attraction to this way of life why not read through ‘First Steps’ and consider making contact. May the Lord give you peace!
Friar Liam OFM
If you are interested in the Franciscan way of life please contact:
Friar Liam Kelly OFM
Phone: 087 396 0262
Postal address: Franciscan Friary, The Abbey, Francis Street, Galway City.