From The Little Flowers of St.
Francis of Assisi, Chapter XXI:
T THE TIME
when Saint Francis was living in the city of Gubbio, a large
wolf appeared in the neighbourhood, so terrible and so fierce, that he not
only devoured other animals, but made a prey of men also; and since he often
approached the town, all the people were in great alarm, and used to go about
armed, as if going to battle.
these precautions, if any of the inhabitants ever met him alone, he was sure
to be devoured, as all defence was useless: and, through fear of the wolf,
they dared not go beyond the city walls.
feeling great compassion for the people of Gubbio, resolved to go and meet
the wolf, though all advised him not to do so. Making the sign of the holy
cross, and putting all his confidence in God, he went forth from the city,
taking his brethren with him; but these fearing to go any further, Saint
Francis bent his steps alone toward the spot where the wolf was known to
be, while many people followed at a distance, and witnessed the
seeing all this multitude, ran towards Saint Francis with his jaws wide
approached, the saint, making the sign of the cross, cried out: Come
hither, brother wolf; I command thee, in the name of Christ, neither to harm
me nor anybody else.
to tell, no sooner had Saint Francis made the sign of the cross, than the
terrible wolf, closing his jaws, stopped running, and coming up to Saint
Francis, lay down at his feet as meekly as a lamb.
And the saint thus addressed
him: 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, if so be thou no more offend them,
and they shall forgive thee all thy past offences, and neither men nor dogs
shall pursue thee any more.
listened to these words, the wolf bowed his head, and, by the movements of
his body, his tail, and his eyes, made signs that he agreed to what Saint
Saint Francis added: 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?
wolf, bowing his head, made a sign that he consented.
Francis again: Brother wolf, wilt thou pledge thy faith that I may
trust to this thy promise? and putting out his hand he received the
pledge of the wolf; for the latter lifted up his paw and placed it familiarly
in the hand of Saint Francis, giving him thereby the only pledge which was
in his power.
Saint Francis, addressing him again: Brother wolf, I command thee,
in the name of Christ, to follow me immediately, without hesitation or doubting,
that we may go together to ratify this peace which we have concluded in the
name of God; and the wolf, obeying him, walked by his side as meekly
as a lamb, to the great astonishment of all the people.
news of this most wonderful miracle spreading quickly through the town, all
the inhabitants, both men and women, small and great, young and old, flocked
to the market-place to see Saint Francis and the wolf.
people being assembled, the saint got up to preach, saying, amongst other
things, how for our sins God permits such calamities, and how much greater
and more dangerous are the flames of hell, which last for ever, than the
rage of a wolf, which can kill the body only; and how much we ought to dread
the jaws of hell, if the jaws of so small an animal as a wolf can make a
whole city tremble through fear.
being ended, Saint Francis added these words: Listen my brethren: the
wolf who is here before you has promised and pledged his faith that he consents
to make peace with you all, and no more to offend you in aught, and you must
promise to give him each day his necessary food; to which, if you consent,
I promise in his name that he will most faithfully observe the
the people promised with one voice to feed the wolf to the end of his days;
and Saint Francis, addressing the latter, said again: And thou, brother
wolf, dost thou promise to keep the compact, and never again to offend either
man or beast, or any other creature? And the wolf knelt down, bowing
his head, and, by the motions of his tail and of his ears, endeavoured to
show that he was willing, so far as was in his power, to hold to the
Francis continued: Brother wolf, as thou gavest me a pledge of this
thy promise when we were outside the town, so now I will that thou renew
it in the sight of all this people, and assure me that I have done well to
promise in thy name; and the wolf lifting up his paw placed it in the
hand of Saint Francis.
event caused great joy in all the people, and a great devotion towards Saint
Francis, both because of the novelty of the miracle, and because of the peace
which had been concluded with the wolf; and they lifted up their voices to
heaven, praising and blessing God, who had sent them Saint Francis, through
whose merits they had been delivered from such a savage
lived two years at Gubbio; he went familiarly from door to door without harming
anyone, and all the people received him courteously, feeding him with great
pleasure, and no dog barked at him as he went about.
after two years, he died of old age, and the people of Gubbio mourned his
loss greatly; for when they saw him going about so gently amongst them all,
he reminded them of the virtue and sanctity of Saint
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Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi, Chapter XXI
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