Saint Francis of Assisi writes: “Do not quarrel or argue or judge others; but be meek, peaceful, and modest, courteous and humble; and speak honorably with everyone (Rule of 1221, Chapter 3).” In our day and age, we know all too well that disagreement and division are facts of life in the world and in the Church.

For centuries after his death, controversy raged over the life and legacy of Saint Francis. Which is the most accurate biography? What is the best way to live the Rule? Who are the authentic custodians of the Franciscan way of life? Brother Leo of Assisi (d. 1271), one of the first followers and best friends of Saint Francis, spent his life trying to answer these questions. Brother Leo was nurse, secretary, confessor, and constant companion during the saint’s final years of life. Tradition holds (although some scholars now disagree) that Brother Leo wrote the Mirror of Perfection, a collection of eye witness accounts about the life and times of the Poor Man of Assisi.

In this story, Saint Francis mourns a broken friendship; and becomes an instrument of God’s love and peace in a world that sounds a lot like our own. Francis brings people together. He binds what is broken. He brings home those who are lost. He speaks of mercy. He sings of peace.

The Mirror of Perfection (Chapter X)

After Francis composed the Canticle of the Creatures, a serious argument arose between the Bishop of Assisi and the Governor of Assisi. The Bishop excommunicated the Governor. And the Governor ordered that no one should conduct business or make any contract with the Bishop.

Now Francis was sick during this time. But when he heard about the feud, he was moved with pity for the Bishop and the Governor, especially since no one tried to make peace between them. Francis said to his companions: “It is a great shame on the servants of God that the Bishop and the Governor hate each other, and that no one among us tries to bring them together in reconciliation.” Francis then added this new verse to the Canticle of the Creatures:

Praise to you, my Lord,
for those who forgive
out of love for you.
Blessed are those who live in peace.
By you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Francis then called upon one of his brother friars and said: “On my behalf, go to the Governor. Beg him to visit the Bishop’s house with the leaders of the city and any others who are willing to join them.” When this friar departed, Francis said to two other friars: “Go to the Bishop’s house. Sing to the Bishop, to the Governor, and to all who gather with them. Sing the Canticle of Brother Sun. Have confidence that God will humble their hearts and bring them together again in love and friendship.”

When everyone was gathered in the cloister of the Bishop’s house, the two friars stepped forward. One of them said: “During his illness, Blessed Francis composed these praises of the Lord by all of his creatures. They are in honor of the Lord and for the enlightenment of all people. Blessed Francis beckons you to listen to these praises with great devotion.” The friars then sang together:

Almighty and Good Lord,
yours are the praises, the glory,
the honor, and all blessings!

To you alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no person is worthy
to mention your holy name!

Praise to you, my Lord,
with all your creatures,
especially our Brother Sun,
who gives us the day
and through whom you give us light.

He is beautiful and radiant
with great splendor;
and he bears the likeness of you,
Most High Lord!

Praise to you, my Lord,
for our Sister Moon,
and all the stars in heaven;
you formed them clear
and precious and beautiful!

Praise to you, my Lord,
through our Brother Wind,
and through the air,
cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather,
through which you sustain creation!

Praise to you, my Lord,
through our Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night;
he is beautiful and robust and strong!

Praise to you, my Lord,
through our Sister Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces fruits
with colored flowers and herbs!

Praise to you, my Lord,
for those who forgive
out of love for you.
Blessed are those who live in peace.
By you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Upon hearing these verses, the Governor rose with deep piety and many tears. He listened intently because he respected Francis. When the praises ended, the Governor said to the assembly: “I tell you sincerely that I forgive the bishop; and I wish to be his friend always. If he or anyone else killed my kinsman or even my son, I would forgive them.” With these words, the Governor fell at the Bishop’s feet and cried out: “Behold! I am ready to make amends in any way that you want for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ and his servant, Blessed Francis.”

The Bishop then took the Governor’s hand and raised him up. He said: “By virtue of my holy office, it is fitting that I should be humble. And yet, I am prone to anger. I pray that you will forgive me.” With much kindness and love, the Bishop and the Governor embraced. The friars were surprised and overjoyed to see that the hope of Blessed Francis was fulfilled.

Everyone present regarded this reconciliation as a miracle made by the merits of Blessed Francis. By his prayers, God had visited them and delivered them from all discord and scandal; and from all memory of any word that caused disagreement. We who were with Blessed Francis give testimony and witness that his prayers were answered and his dreams fulfilled. We have seen and heard of many marvelous miracles. But it would take too long to write them all down.

A Prayer for Peace

In our own times, in the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi, with hope for better days and for peace in our troubled world, we cry out in prayer with joyful hearts:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born
to eternal life. Amen.

Glory to the Father,
to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us!
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!
Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

Art Credit: Photo by Alexandra Barbu |

About the Presenter

Cliff Garvey is a co-founder of the Assisi Project. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine, Saint John Seminary College, and the Catholic University of America. Cliff is a writer, spiritual director, retreat leader, and university lecturer. He also serves as Associate Minister of the Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport in Massachusetts where his ministry focuses on adult faith formation. Thank you for listening to Saint Francis Sings of Peace. These audio recordings are produced by the Assisi Project, Inc. For more information about the Assisi Project: A Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit and our ministries for adults of all ages and backgrounds, please contact Cliff at Copyright 2021. All rights reserved. May the Lord give you peace!


About Us

Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is a Fellowship of Franciscans in Spirit with friends and followers throughout the world. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi. The Assisi Project is a non-profit, tax exempt charitable organization. All are welcome to support our ministry via PayPal or AmazonSmile (links below); or by sending a tax-deductible donation to the Assisi Project, Post Office Box 3158, Gloucester, Massachusetts 01931-3158. For more information about the Assisi Project and our upcoming opportunities for formation, prayer, and pilgrimage, please contact Cliff Garvey at May the Lord give you peace!

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