A Meditation About St. Francis of Assisi

From the book “Among The Blessed: Loving Thoughts About Favourite Saints”, By Matthew Russell SJ. Longmans, Green and Co., London, 1911. pp. 146-7.

A copy of this book is digitized and can be found at archive.org.


St. Francis of Assisi, the seraph-saint of love,
Christ’s glorious poverello, fixed all his hopes above.
He cared not for the sorrows or the shame and pain of life,
And of his wounds he recked not in the ardour of the strife.
“My God, my all !” he murmured, and yearned for nought beside;
He lived on love of Jesus, and ’twas of love he died.

His heart was large and tender, he loved the beasts and birds;
His twittering sister-swallows listened silent to his words.
The cruel wolf of Gobbio his gentle glance could tame,
And to his whispered bidding obedient it became.
Before the murderous brigand with prayers and tears he fell —
“On thine own soul have mercy!” — and he saved that soul from hell.

St. Francis of Assisi is glorious now in Heaven,
And e’en on earth has genius its richest tribute given
To him the poor and lowly who only loved the Cross,
And looked on wealth and honour as foolishness and dross.
Brave warriors, bright maidens, soon dead, forgotten long —
But Francis still is living in our hearts and in our song.

On the snowy heights of Dante thou, Francis, hast thy place;
Thy Fioretti charm us with subtlest, rarest grace
The pathos of thy story the poet’s soul has fired,
The highest flights of Bossuet have been by thee inspired;
And Giotto, Perugino, have laid in homage meet
Their art’s divinest treasures beneath thy pierced feet.

But gentle Father Francis will bid us link his name
With those who in his footsteps to the Heart of Jesus came —
Good Brother Giles, and Bernard, the first to join the Saint,
And Juniper, and Leo, so holy and so quaint,
And all the thousand thousands who have fasted, preached, and prayed
In the brown Franciscan habit — ne’er may its glory fade!

Great Saint ! on earth thou madest meek Poverty thy bride,
And on the Cross with Jesus thy flesh was crucified.
May I, in coward’s measure, partake thy blissful pain,
That somewhere in Christ’s kingdom I too at length may reign!
To think of thee, St. Francis, is both a joy and fear,
For I must win that Heaven which cost thee not too dear.