The Legend of St Francis and the Birds

The Legend of St Francis and the Birds

A painting of St. Francis Preaching to the Birds, by Giotto, at the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Assisi
A painting of St. Francis Preaching to the Birds, by Giotto, at the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Assisi

For those walking the Via di Francesco, the legend of St Francis preaching to the birds provides a powerful example of the interconnectedness of all life and the importance of embracing a deep connection with nature, spirituality, and self-discovery during their pilgrimage.

  • St Francis’ profound connection with all creation
  • Preaching to the birds as a symbol of universal praise
  • Emphasizing trust in Infinite Intelligence
  • Encouraging deeper respect for all creatures

St Francis and His Connection to Birds

A Sermon Among the Trees

As St Francis traveled from city to city, gathering members for his new religious order, he came across a multitude of birds in the trees. Feeling inspired by their presence, he decided to preach to them about their connection to all that is and their duty to sing its praises.

The Birds as “Little Sisters”

Addressing the birds as his “little sisters,” St Francis spoke of the many ways they were connected to all that is and the natural world. He reminded them of their freedom to fly, the nourishment provided by nature, and the beauty of their songs.

Chapel of the Birds, Santuario della Verna
Chapel of the Birds, Santuario della Verna

A Symbol of Universal Praise

Francis became well known for the event, and he has been connected with birds in many ways.

In another event, St Francis was greeted by many birds during his first visit to the Santuario della Verna. The event was commemorated by the Cappella degli Uccelli, The Chapel of the Birds, a small chapel built along the old paved road called “Ansilice” leading up to the sanctuary.

St Francis welcomed by birds
Saint Francis’s first visit to La Verna and greeted by a large flock of birds of different varieties. The Chapel of the Birds was built in 1602 to mark the location of this event. This artwork appeared in Fra Lino Moroni, Descrizione del Sacro Monte della Vernia (Florence, 1612). Jacopo Ligozzi (designer) and Raffaello Schiaminossi (etcher), Plate C: The Salutation of the Birds. The photo is own by National Gallery of Art, Washington, Acquisition funded by a grant from The B. H. Breslauer Foundation, 2013.67.9.4

The Significance for Pilgrims on the Via di Francesco

St Francis’ message to the birds reflects his unwavering faith in Infinite Intelligence and a commitment to live in harmony with all creatures.

Trust in Infinite Intelligence

The story also emphasizes the importance of trust in Infinite Intelligence, as St Francis believed that Infinite Intelligence would always provide for his needs and those of his fellow creatures.

Respect and Reverence for All Creatures

St Francis’ preaching to the birds serves as a reminder to cultivate a deeper respect for all creatures and to recognize their intrinsic value as part of Infinite Intelligence’s creation.

A Powerful Symbol of Interconnectedness

By preaching to the birds, St Francis demonstrated the profound connections that unite all living beings and the spiritual significance of our relationship with the natural world.

Read more about St Francis.