New Yorker

St Francis

As the 'inconvenient elder'

St Francis:  flickr photo by dawnzy58
St Francis: flickr photo by dawnzy58

When he ceded control of the group, Francis [Saint Francis of Assisi, AD 1181–1226] hoped that he could still lead the men by example, but his influence quickly waned. This enraged him. “Who are these who have ripped my order and my brothers out of my hands?” he shouted. Once, when he saw a new building that he thought the community had erected for itself, in disregard of the rule of poverty, he climbed up to the roof and began prying off the tiles and throwing them to the ground. Breaking with his earlier, gentle practice, he cursed people who opposed his ideas.

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