While many are familiar with St. Francis of Assisi’s life of poverty, few know that he was an ardent promoter of devotion to the Eucharist.
He firmly believed that Jesus was truly and substantially present under the appearance of bread and wineat Mass.
With this in his mind, he always sought to give Jesus in the Eucharist his utmost respect and devotion.
If St. Francis visited a church and saw that it was dirty, he would get out a broom and sweep it clean!
This Eucharistic devotion extended to the precious vessels used at Mass. He wrote in a letter to priests explaining why they should use high quality chalices and tabernacles.
[L]et all those who administer such most holy mysteries, especially those who do so indifferently, consider among themselves how poor the chalices, corporals, and linens may be where the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is sacrificed. And by many It is left in wretched places and carried by the way disrespectfully, received unworthily and administered to others indiscriminately.
Let us then at once and resolutely correct these faults and others; and wheresoever the most holy Body of our Lord Jesus Christ may be improperly reserved and abandoned, let It be removed thence and let It be put and enclosed in a precious place.
He reiterated this point in his Testament.
Above everything else, I want this most holy Sacrament to be honored and venerated and reserved in places which are richly ornamented.
St. Francis loved Jesus dearly and spent the rest of his life offering his every action to him. With a burning fire of love in his heart, he couldn’t stand to watch Jesus being treated poorly.
His desire to treat the Eucharist with such respect only makes sense when viewed through the lens of the Real Presence of Jesus. If Jesus is truly present under the appearance of bread and wine, then St. Francis believed that anything that contained the Eucharist should be fit for a king.