Origin of St. Francis "if necessary preach" quote

…I came across this quote cited by St. Bonaventure that comes very close to the supposed “preach–use words if necessary” quote:

Knowing he [St. Francis] should give himself as an example to others, he too then set out with one companion for one part of the world that he might first practice rather than preach.

There may be other better examples out there.

Anyway, I bring this up because I’ve seen people debunk the St. Francis quote on CAF. And while it’s true he never made the statement as often quoted, he did believe and practice the idea. :slight_smile:

I’ve read a couple other good articles about this as well.



"This slogan is actually an apparent misquote of what Francis said in chapter 17 of his Rules of the Friar (1221). Here’s the quote in full:

Ch. 17 — Of Preachers.

“Let none of the brothers preach contrary to the form and institution of the holy Roman Church, and unless this has been conceded to him by his minister. But let the minister take care that he does not grant this leave indiscreetly to anyone. Nevertheless, let all the brothers preach by their works. And let no minister or preacher appropriate to himself the ministry of brothers or the office of preaching, but let him give up his office without any contradiction at whatever hour it may be enjoined him. Wherefore I beseech in the charity which God is all.”

So, what St. Francis told his friars was not to preach unless they had received proper permission to do so. And that even if they didn’t get to preach, he wanted to make sure that “all the brothers preach by their works.”"
(*All Things fo Good *blog (second link above))

Thank you, ahs for the links and the quote. I read another example somewhere a while ago, but can’t remember where or who wrote it. I should have copied it then. In any case, Francis strongly believed in setting a good example by actions as well as preaching with words. I’d like some of our Franciscans to chime in on this, as well. :slight_smile:

It does not matter if he said those exact words.

Those words reflect the spirituality of St. Francis.

The Rule and life of the Friars Minor is this, namely, to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, by living …]

Preach the Gospel by observance, then, and by works.

Only much later down the Rule does St. Francis speak of preaching, and in very delicate words:

The friars are forbidden to preach in any diocese if the bishop objects to it.

No friar should dare to preach to the people unless he has been examined and approved by the Minister General of the Order and has received from him the commission to preach.

Moreover, I advise and admonish the friars that in their preaching, their words should be examined and chaste. They should aim only at the advantage and spiritual good of their listeners, telling them briefly about vice and virtue, punishment and glory, because our Lord himself kept his words short on earth.

“and when necessary, use words”.

St. Bonaventure called St. Francis a “Mirror of Perfection”, because he reflected Christ, who is Perfection, and who IS the Word of God, and thus preached the Good News by His very life, and only when necessary used words.

The high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, “Do You not answer?” But Jesus remained silent.

Then Pilate questioned Him again, saying, “Do You not answer?” But Jesus still answered nothing.

[Herod] questioned him in many words. But he answered him nothing.

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