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The day St. Francis restored peace to a city

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Ricardo Sanches - published on 04/18/22

The saint's lifestyle was focused on witnessing to and proclaiming peace—a mission passed on to the entire Franciscan Family.

Peace is at the core of Franciscan spirituality. It’s a goal that is very clearly reflected even in the traditional Franciscan greeting, “Peace and good.”

According to Br. Nestor Inácio Schwerz, St. Francis’ lifestyle was focused on witnessing to and proclaiming peace—a mission passed on to the entire Franciscan Family. The friar explains:

In fact, St. Francis was always a model of peace. Wherever he went, he did his best to promote it. One example is when he was in Arezzo, in the company of Brother Sylvester. The story is recounted in The Assisi Compilation.

When the saint and his companion arrived there, they found the city divided between two factions that were constantly fighting each other. Francis, who was staying at a hospice, was certain that demons were instigating the residents to fight and “inciting the people to destroy their city with fire and other dangerous means.” He then asked Br. Sylvester to go to the entrance of the town and drive the demons out.

The priest did so, crying out: “Praised and blessed be the Lord Jesus Christ. On behalf of Almighty God and in virtue of holy obedience of our most holy father Francis, I command all the devils that they all leave this city!” 

St. Francis was unable to preach to them at that time himself, due to poor health. However, the chronicle goes on to say that soon afterwards peace and concord were restored among the inhabitants of Arezzo.

Later, when he was able to preach to them, Francis warned the residents: “You are wretched and ignorant people and ungrateful for the favor of God who, although unknown to many of you, at one time freed this city through the merits of a most holy brother, Sylvester.”

Peace is not a gift to be taken for granted. It is achieved and maintained by God in response to the prayers and holiness of countless people. As we see the tragedy of war play out in Ukraine and in other countries around the world, we should strive to be among those who pray for peace and make it a reality through our own actions in obedience to God’s grace.

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