Why St Francis Took Off all His Clothes
From M Neylan, Cape Town – I hope it’s not an offence to disagree with a Franciscan on St Francis, but I feel that Fr Patrick Noonan’s article(April 17) has not told the whole story.
Yes, Francis did take his clothes off in the presence of the bishop and onlookers in the town square, but did so because his father had summoned him to appear before the bishop no doubt hoping the bishop could talk some sense into Francis.
However, when Bernadone Sr saw this was not going to happen, he grew angry and said something like: I am no longer your father and you are no longer my son. In other words, he disowned Francis. And Francis replied in like manner: You are no longer my father. Henceforth I have only one father – he that is my heavenly father.
I cannot believe that the father was uncomprehending or baffled after this exchange. When Francis realised that he owned nothing, that even the clothes on his back belonged to his father, he took them off and handed, or threw, them back, whereupon the bishop covered Francis’ nakedness with his own cloak.
I think this gives a much clearer and more credible picture of what went on.
I thought this took place after the crucifix at San Damiano had asked Francis to Rebuild my Church, and that was why Francis was using money from the business to rebuild San Damiano and other churches needing repair, which is what made Bernadone Sr so mad!
I feel Fr Noonan’s article made one sympathise with Bernadone Sr more than he deserved. After all, he was a businessman and was sore when he was being robbed of stock as well as profit. One can see his point of view, but not to the extent of disowning his son.