Posted by: petsweekly | October 29, 2010

St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio

This weekend is the Blessing of the Animals at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Paradise Valley, AZ. St. Francis is one of my most favorite people and in a second, I’ll tell you why… But first, here’s the information on the event in hopes you can join us. We’ll even show you the new pet-friendly Sienna from Toyota if you like, and if you’re nice, we’ll give you a drive around in it. (It will probably be a short drive because gas is really expensive, but you can hang out and watch a movie or take a quick nap in the back …)

Blessing of the Animals

October 30 thru October 31 at the Franciscan Renewal Center on 5802 E. Lincoln Drive Scottsdale, AZ, 85253
Hours:  Saturday, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM and Sunday, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM Animal blessings are at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Everything from dogs and cats to hamsters and even horses, will be blessed in a special ceremony called the Blessing of the Animals. There will be lots of things to do, from a “Dog Wash” and Silent Auction, to a raffle, shopping and some great food. The most important part of this event is the adopt-a-thon.

Bring the family and visit more than 60 Valley rescue groups. All proceeds benefit the PACC911 Emergency Medical Fund, which provides financial aid to Valley non-profit animal welfare groups. Arizona Animal Welfare League’s Mobile Vaccine Clinic is also on-site to provide low-cost microchipping and vaccinations for dogs and cats.

Now, here is a really nice story about St. Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio. But in order to tell you that story, I have to tell you this story…

Fioretti di San Francesco:

The best source we have on St. Francis is from an anonymous Italian text, which we think was written by an anonymous Tuscan writer. It’s called the the “Fioretti” or “Little Flowers of St. Francis”, and it’s a florilegium (basically, lots of little stories excerpted and placed in one big story). The stories, which were composed at the end of the 14th century), were divided into 53 short chapters.

There are many interesting stories in this book. One is about how Francis and his “brothers” gave up their small home to allow a donkey to live there.  Francis wrote about this in the Canticle of the Creatures, an ode to God’s living things. “All praise to you, Oh Lord, for all these brother and sister creatures.”

The Wolf of Gubbio and St. Francis:

The bird story is a good one, but here’s my most favorite one. It deals with the “Wolf of Gubbio.”

In the city of Gubbio, where Francis once lived, there was a wolf  “terrifying and ferocious, who devoured men as well as animals”.  The townspeople wanted to hunt the wolf, but Francis had compassion for both animals and people, and he entered the forest where the wolf lived.

Once he found the wolf, he made the sign of the cross and commanded the wolf to come to him. The wolf lay down at the feet of St. Francis.

“Brother wolf, thou hast done much evil in this land, destroying and killing the creatures of God without his permission; yea, not animals only hast thou destroyed, but thou hast even dared to devour men, made after the image of God; for which thing thou art worthy of being hanged like a robber and a murderer. All men cry out against thee, the dogs pursue thee, and all the inhabitants of this city are thy enemies; but I will make peace between them and thee, O brother wolf, is so be thou no more offend them, and they shall forgive thee all thy past offenses, and neither men nor dogs shall pursue thee any more.”

To show the good will between the wolf and the townsfolk, Francis  led the wolf back into town to make a pact. The wolf would agree not to eat any more people if they would help provide him food. “As thou art willing to make this peace, I promise thee that thou shalt be fed every day by the inhabitants of this land so long as thou shalt live among them; thou shalt no longer suffer hunger, as it is hunger which has made thee do so much evil; but if I obtain all this for thee, thou must promise, on thy side, never again to attack any animal or any human being; dost thou make this promise?”

The agreement was made and the townsfolk said they would happily supply the wolf food if he agreed to stay away from their flocks and their citizens. Francis even made a pact on behalf on behalf of the town dogs – they agreed not to ever bother the wolf again as long as the wolf held to his agreement. At that point, he blessed both the wolf and the dogs, then turned to bless the people of the village.

This is how the town of Gubbio was freed from the terrors of the wolf. The wolf lived another two years at Gubbio, going from home to home for sustenance and honoring the provisions of its agreement with Francis. When the wolf finally died, the entire city was sad for their loss.

The National Gallery in London has a polyptych by Sassetta in the Sainsbury Wing that depicts scenes from the life of Saint Francis, and it includes a scene depicting Saint Francis making a pact with the Wolf.  

Pretty nice story, huh? Now if we could all just follow Francis’ example!


  1. I’ve never heard that story before and found it pretty interesting. It’s always nice to read about old tales that had never been told to me or ones that I’ve never read.

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