Today, on the feast of St. Francis, most people will remember Francis as the patron saint of animals and the environment. We’ll bless our pets and listen to “The Canticle of the Sun.” But Francis did more than preach to the birds and tame the wolf of Gubbio. If you look at the “Little Flowers“–a florilegium of stories about the saint’s life–you’ll find that Francis was interesting and quirky, and what we might call “extreme.”
Francis did not live a life of peaceful contemplation. He went to Egypt to try to convert the Sultan and end the Crusades. He was the first person recorded as having received the stigmata, and he suffered from them until his death. He once preached a mighty sermon while naked, and another time raised a man into the air with his breath. He was very serious about imitating the life of Christ and living in poverty. He could be harsh and excessive.
Certainly Francis was a figure worthy of his own comic book–a bit dark and unpredictable, driven, compassionate. A man whose great love and obsession changed the world.