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A world pregnant with God

A female Franciscan saint has much to teach us about the sacredness of life and our collective responsibility for the environment, writes Michael Hahn

A world pregnant with God

FRANCIS OF ASSISI (1181-1226) is famed for his love of nature, and for preaching to the birds. A focus on nature and ecology is certainly important to his public perception. Yet historian and theologian Krijn Pansters argues that this can easily fall into a caricatured ‘birdbath Franciscanism’. It undervalues both Francis’ wider spirituality and the theological claims behind it. Two central ideas lay behind Francis’ love of nature. First, his religious community were not cloistered monks but friars active in the world around them. Secondly, Francis extended an emphasis on fraternity to the entire creation. God’s footsteps could be seen in the natural world and nature itself could become the basis for our ‘God talk’.

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