St. Francis of Assisi

On this beautiful spring day, Vintage was privileged to have Theological Horizons board member Molly McFarland as a guest today. Not only did students enjoy her homemade barbeque chicken sandwiches, but they were also able to hear a little about Molly’s experience with Theological Horizons both as an undergraduate and now as a board member. Molly spoke about the impact it has had on her life, and she encouraged students to give back, whether through the UVa class gift donation or other ways. After listening to Molly speak, we jumped right into reading and discussing St. Francis of Assisi. Francis was born into a nouveau rich family and lived from 1181-1226. He grew up to become a rowdy teenager; he travelled, learned French, and troubadour poetry. Francis lived in a violent era, and he was imprisoned for a year after fighting with Assisi against Perugia. At age 25, he rejected his family’s wealth, and he instead embraced lepers and joined those who were abandoned. He formed a community of poverty, humility, and service with the “brothers” that God gave him. Francis was known to be extroverted, eccentric, and cheerful despite living in poverty. His order of brothers expanded to Germany, France, Hungary, Spain and the Middle East. He lived his last days in a hermitage, suffered from illnesses, and died at age 45.

Students began the discussion of St. Francis by bringing up a famous quote that is attributed to him: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.” This quote is a reminder of the impact our actions and the way in which we live can have on others. Yet students were careful to not disregard the importance of words. Even when it might be uncomfortable to do so, preaching the gospel verbally is often necessary as well. Today at Vintage, we also discussed what St. Francis had to say on forgiveness and reconciliation. We read the story of “Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio,” which tells the miracle of how Francis saves the town from a ferocious wolf that is terrorizing the people. He is able to tame the wolf and make an oath with it through the power of God. Francis saw the need beneath the fear of the people and the fierceness of the wolf, and he mediated an agreement where both sides gave up something to bring about reconciliation. This story is a picture of the need for forgiveness and reconciliation throughout the world.


To hear Molly McFarland speak on Theological Horizons, check out the video on YouTube: