What did Francis of Assisi look like, pray tell

Here’s my point: you may have a dozen excuses in your back pocket, ready to pull them out at any invitation or before accepting any compliment. You may like to say that you are not x enough or not y enough or you don’t have enough z in you to do something. I want to assure you that Francis said “yes” to God over and over again, despite having a patchy beard, small feet and non-milky eyes.  You can say “yes” too, no matter how big your head or feet are.

Here is a detailed description of St. Francis’ physical appearance, provided to us by Thomas of Celano, his first biographer. I’ve yet to find a painting which depicts this precisely and would love to see an artist take a crack at it.Image

Overall appearance: cheerful

Face: kind, not lazy, not arrogant

Height: Medium-Short

Head: Medium sized and round

Forehead: neither large nor rough

Eyes: not to big, not too small. not milky. black.

Eyebrows: straight

Hair: dark

Nose: neither uneven  nor wide

Ears: neither large nor sagging.

Temples: Smooth

Beard: Patchy

Teeth: White and even

Lips: neither fat nor large

Neck: slender

Fingers: long

Nails: tapered (was not a nail biter)

Legs: thin

Feets: small

Skin: fine

Fat? no

St. Francis, Biographied



1.  More biographies have been written about __________ than about any person in history.

a.) St. Francis of Assisi

Answer: a.)St. Francis of Assisi

How did you score? I hope you did well. It feels good to do well on quizzes in magazines and blogs. It is true that our humble, lowly, earthy hero, Francis, has been the focus of more biographies than any other person. Isn’t that just how things go? You spend your life seeking out humility and giving credit to God for all creatures great and small and then a few hundred years later,  someone invents the printing press and then a few years later, somebody starts the tsunami of books about you. I guess it is true that the last shall be first. I’ll try a little more humility in the next few days and see if I can at least get a shout-out on a facebook post. Live small, aim small, that is one way to approach life. 

We can guess (or, to use a popular word these days, deduce) that there are about as many versions of Saint Francesco d’Assisi  as there are authors writing about him. It is hard to get a good picture of the person when we only focus on what others have written about him.. I’m a big fan of his writings for this reason. If you really want to get to know St. Francis of Assisi, I’d suggest that you purchase yourself a copy of his book of writings by New City Press called Francis of Assisi: Early Documents (Volume 1). You can find it for about $20 online, cheaper at the end of semesters.






Clare loves Francis

tatSaint Clare of Assisi was not the lover of Saint Francis of Assisi.

People love to examine their relationship and plug in some fascinating tale of unrequited, suppressed or sublimated love. Naturally, the imagination of many scholars/fans/spiritual wirters wants to go into some excting places to spice up the story of these two folks. Heck, one’s a man and one’s a woman, so there had to be some romantic feeling there, right?

Wish I could remember all the details of that C.S. Lewis book about the four (or was it five?) loves, but I can’t do that right now, so I’ll just have to go with my own thoughts on this one.

Sure, Clare loved Francis. Sure, Francis loved Clare. Love was a defining feature of how each of them met the world. Not with suspicion and fear as most people meet others. If you haven’t experienced people meeting you with suspicion and fear lately, it is because you are not trying hard enough. What I mean is that you are in a routine and you aren’t encountering anybody new from day to day. My husband and I have just moved to a totally different part of the country and so every place I go, I am a stranger and pilgrim. You know how strangers and pilgrims are treated? That’s right-with suspicion. Want to hear more about that? Drop me a line as I am now an expert on the topic after a few weeks in a new place. As I estalbish a routine, though, I know this will go away and I won’t be viewed as suspiciously in as many places.

Enough about me, let’s return to our heroine. We can say she was his first female follower. It doesn’t stop there, of course, because she and Jesus blazed a beautiful path as she followed in the footprints of the poor and humble Christ. Another reason why it doesn’t stop there is b/c she outlived the fella by a good several decades. God continued to inspire, direct, lead and show her the way.

Through this blog, we’ll be taking a good look at this cool formerly rich lady who gave up her status, riches and security to live in the world as a pilgrim and stranger. For now, suffice to say she was not in some weird love triangle involving herself, Francis and Jesus. Nope. Her heart was totally for Jesus. And it was not a selfish, possiessive love of Jesus, but one which she wished others claimed and nourished as well.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Could that which was sour become salty? We'll think about that another day.
Could that which was sour become salty? We’ll think about that another day.

“what had seemed bitter to me was turned into sweetness”

St. Francis was repulsed by smelly lepers. God led him to live and serve among them and thus changed his heart. Here’s your 30 second Franciscan Retreat:

Who are the lepers in your life?

Will you pray that God turn that bitterness to sweetness?

No, seriously, will ya?