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Saint Francis he is one of the saints that everyone knows, even those who may not believe. He is a somewhat "philosopher" saint who can be found to know in various ways because to all intents and purposes he marked an era, his era and also ours. St. Francis was born in Assisi in 1182, he lived a youth immersed in wealth until the moment of conversion after which he became poor, starting to preach until he found the Franciscan Order. The episodes of his life and his first followers have been collected and narrated in the "Fioretti di San Francesco ”.
Saint Francis and the wolf it is here that it is narrated along with many other significant episodes imbued with double and triple meanings. Some stories have entered the iconography of the saint and reproduced by art. His meeting with the wolf in Gubbio it is just one of them but there are also episodes such as the sermon to the birds, the rose garden in which he rolled to escape temptation, the reception of the Stigmata.
Saint Francis and the wolf
The story of St. Francis and the wolf is a famous episode in which we see the saint able to tame this ferocious beast. It is told in chapter XXI of " Fioretti di S.Francesco”, Let's see what happens in the story.
We are in Gubbio, the citizens are frightened by the presence of a ferocious wolf that wanders around tormenting them. St. Francis, when the situation arises and taking the pulse of the city, decides to intervene in person despite everyone trying to hold him back, fearing the possible dangers related to theaggression of the wolf. Nothing and no one can block the saint who decides to go to the wolf to talk to him to try to free the city from this nightmare.
Having reached the ferocious beast in a wood just outside the city, at the Vittorina church, St. Francis faces the wolf's jaws without fear, blesses it and makes itself heard. The wolf ceases to be aggressive and, calmer, listens to the words of the saint who promises him that, if he repents of the evil done and changes his way of life, inhabitants of Gubbio they will be happy to welcome him into town and feed him.
A rather advantageous agreement for the wolf who is not slow to accept, turning his face to the saint as a sign of submission. Under the amazed and even relieved gaze of the citizens, man and wolf return to the city together with the agreement made and repeat it to everyone in the large market square so that it is clear to the whole city how the beast will no longer be a danger to anyone. From that day on, the entire city and all its inhabitants are infinitely grateful to St. Francis for his generous and courageous gesture, for solving their problem, and without even shedding useless blood.
What remains today in Gubbio of the story of St. Francis and the wolf? - the church of S. Francesco della Pace that tradition has it built in the place where the wolf lived.
Saint Francis and the wolf for children
To tell the story of St. Francis and the wolf I propose to children a sort of nursery rhyme written by Angiolo Silvio Novaro. It is a version that, even if rhymed and simplified, does not lose even a shred of magic and knows how to fully convey the intrinsic meaning of the episode.
Here it is, happy reading.
He lived a day, an ancient rumor tells us, around Gubbio a very ferocious wolf that had sharper teeth than mastiffs and devoured men and children. Within the small walls of Gubbio the citizens were closed and in doubt each of their life. Fear did not let them leave the walls. E Saint Francis came to Gubbio, and heard of the wolf, the massacres, the offenses; and had a bright and fresh laugh, and said: "O friars, I go out to meet the wolf!". The women had tears so big, but the hilarious and daring Holy One came out. And in the middle of the wood he found the ferocious bristly wolf, and with a friendly voice said to him: “O wolf, my brother wolf, why do you look at me so dark and gloomy?
Why are you showing me those sharp teeth? Come here a little, sit beside me, hear: I know that you do a lot of harm in Gubbio and you keep everyone in your life in doubt, and I know that you steal and kill and do not forgive even to the children, and eat the sad and the good: Well, listen: as the sun is true, what you do is bad. God does not want! But you are good; and perhaps hunger forced you to do so. Well, I promise you that in Gubbio from now on you will have food: but you promise to be honest and straight and do not give the slightest nuisance: in short, be a quiet beast. Promise all this, say? ". The wolf lowered his head, and he said: "Yes!" "Before God do you promise it?". And in faith the wolf very humbly raised one foot. Then the Saint merrily turned his step to Gubbio, and the wolf behind, with his head down.
In Gubbio there was a great celebration, immense cheers: joy burst out, and up to heaven rose. And domestic the wolf remained within the closed walls, and went around the houses among the children like a real lamb, and he licked the cheeks of this and that. And then he died. And he was mourned by everyone and buried in the holy field.
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