St. Francis and the Eucharist

Among the lessons we can glean from St. Francis of Assisi, his devotion to Christ in the Eucharist stands out as one of the most powerful, yet one of the most hidden or overlooked in our modern world. Francis didn’t leave us many writings, and even what little he did leave is largely unknown to most Christians today, especially in English-speaking countries. Even so, a significant portion of his remaining words regard the Eucharist, and how intensely he wants others to respect, love, and venerate our Eucharistic Lord. I have selected and translated three passages from the writings of our beloved Saint below. I will let his words speak for themselves, from his heart to yours. May his faith, love, and devotion inspire us all to a greater love for Jesus, the Bread of Life,[1] feeding, saving, and remaining with us: in the Mass, in our tabernacles, and in our hearts.

In his First Admonition, St. Francis wrote the following:

“Behold, every day He humbles Himself, as when from His royal throne[2] He descended into the womb of the Virgin; every day He Himself comes to us in humble guise; every day He descends from the bosom of the Father onto the altar in the hands of the priest. And as to the holy apostles He revealed Himself in true flesh, so also now, He reveals Himself to us in the consecrated Bread. And as they with the sight of the body saw only His flesh, but contemplating with spiritual eyes, they believed that He was the same God; in this way we also, seeing bread and wine with the eyes of the body, we must see and firmly believe that it is His most holy Body and Blood, living and true. And in such manner, the Lord is always with His faithful, as He Himself says, ‘Behold, I am with you even to the end of the world.'”[3][4]

In his Testament, he left us the following:

“In [all priests] I see the Son of God, and they are my lords. And I do this because, of the Most High Son of God, I see nothing else corporeally in this world but His Most Holy Body and Blood, which they alone consecrate and they alone administer to others.

And I want, above all else, that these most holy Mysteries be honored, venerated, and placed in precious places. And wherever I will find the Holy Names and His written words in indecent places, I want to gather them up, and I pray that they may be collected and kept in a place which is richly decorated.”[5] 

Finally, in his Letter to the Entire Order (of the Friars Minor), he wrote the following passionate gem:

“Therefore, I implore all of you, brothers—kissing your feet and with all the love of which I am capable—that you lend all possible reverence and honor toward the Most Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in which the things that are in heaven and those on earth have been pacified and reconciled to Almighty God.[6] […]

All humanity should fear, the entire universe shake, and heaven exult, when Christ, the Son of the living God [7] is present on the altar in the hands of the priest.

O admirable heights and stupendous condescension! O sublime humility! O humble sublimity: that the Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, humbles Himself to the point of hiding Himself under the little appearance of bread for our salvation.

Look, brothers, at the humility of God and open your hearts before Him.[8] Humble yourselves, you also, that you may be exalted by Him.[9] Keep nothing of yourselves for yourselves, therefore: that He may receive you whole and entire: He Who offers Himself entirely to you.”[10] 

Amen! Glory to God in the highest!

[1] Jn 6:35.

[2] Wisdom 18:15.

[3] Mt 28:20.

[4] St. Francis of Assisi. Admonition I. Translation from original Italian by Stephen Snyder, first published in 2012 in The Chaplet of St. Francis. All Right Reserved.

[5] St. Francis of Assisi. Testament. Translation from original Italian by Stephen Snyder, first published in 2012 in The Chaplet of St. Francis. All Right Reserved.

[6] Cf. Col 1:20.

[7] Mt 16:16.

[8] Ps 61:9.

[9] 1 Pt  5:6.

[10] St. Francis of Assisi. Letter to the Entire Order. Translation from original Italian by Stephen Snyder, first published in 2012 in The Chaplet of St. Francis, edited 2019. All Right Reserved.

Article and Translations by Stephen Snyder, 2019. All Rights Reserved. Image: Saint Francis Collecting the Blood of Christ by Carlo Crivelli, (wikipedia).