More than a Birdbath: St. Francis of Assisi, a Living Instrument of Catechesis

Authored by Fr. Jonathan St. André, TOR in Issue #8.2 of The Catechetical Review

Most people within the Catholic Church, as well as those who would consider themselves religiously unaffiliated, have some name and image recognition of St. Francis of Assisi. For many, the dominant image is the ubiquitous St. Francis birdbath nestled in the greenery or the flower garden. Others may think of Francis of Assisi’s particular love for the poor and the lepers of his day. For others, when they think of St. Francis, their consideration is drawn to the stigmata he received that resembled the wounds of the poor, crucified Christ.

These images all have a true connection to the man of Assisi, but there is one that often goes largely ignored: St. Francis of Assisi, the catechetical saint. The small yet substantive corpus of writings of Francis of Assisi reflect a powerful catechesis of the theology and spirituality of Catholic Christianity. Francis’ writings, mostly composed of prayers, letters, and Rules of Life for his followers, form a simple yet profound catechesis rooted in Scripture and expressive of the culture of Christendom in which Francis lived. In his writings, we are invited to meet a man who is described in an antiphon of the Liturgy of the Hours as a “thoroughly Catholic and apostolic man.” Francis was deeply rooted in the orthodox teaching of Catholic Christianity and committed to sharing this truth, which burned like a fire in his heart.

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This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting

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