- First Person
Saint Francis of Assisi Inspired the Pope—and Me
They may be eight centuries old, but the words and acts of ecology’s patron saint resonate in this era of environmental crisis, one nature lover argues.
“Can you hear me, Saint Francis?”
I am standing on an escarpment at a place called Denniston in New Zealand’s South Island. Cloud wreaths the sandstone pinnacles that jut into the abyss.
St. Francis had his sacred mountains, and I have mine. This high plateau is somewhere I feel saturated with nature’s holy enchantment. On rainy nights I have searched for giant snails in the springy moss and dwarf scrub that carpets the rock. On still mornings I have stood on the lip of the precipice and listened to the songs of bellbirds rising like choristers’ psalms from the forest below.
St. Francis would have liked it here.
Perhaps that’s why Peter Hooper, a local schoolteacher and poet, felt moved to call to