Posted by: Brad Beaman | November 25, 2007

St Francis, Sermon to the Birds: My comments on

What comes to your mind when you think of St Francis of Assisi?

I must admit for me when I think St Francis I think he must have been off his rocker. Wondering around in a hair shirt (I am not exactly sure what a hair shirt is). Meditating until he received the marks of stigmata. The stories seemed so odd to me of his preaching to animals that listened to his sermons with riveted attention.

All of this is so foreign to the way I live my Christian life that I pretty much wrote off St Francis as irrelevant. That is until I read his Sermon to the Birds. Read this and then I will explain why reading this sermon made me think much differently of St. Francis.

Sermon to the Birds – St Francis of Assisi


Dear little beloved birds, much burden are you to God, your Creator, and always in every place ought you to praise Him for that He has given you liberty to fly about everywhere and has also given you double ant triple raiment; moreover he preserved your seed in the ark of Noah, that your race might not perish out of the world; still more are you beholden to Him for the element of the air which He has appointed for you beyond all this. You do not sow neither do you reap. And God feeds you and gives you the streams and fountains for your drink; the mountains and the valleys for your refuge and the high trees whereon to make your nests; and because you know not how to spin or sew God clothes you. You and your children; wherefore your Creator loves you much, seeing that He has bestowed on you so many benefits; and therefore beloved little creatures beware of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praise unto God.


Did reading that sermon change your view of St Francis of Assisi? It did for me.

Now instead of picturing a half-crazed mystic preaching to birds I am imagining that St Francis was with his best disciples who would become the foundation of the Franciscan Monks (which is still going after one thousand years). I can picture Francis overhearing them complain expressing ingratitude. Then he stops and preaches this sermon to the birds warning them of the sin of ingratitude.

He may not have been preaching to the birds at all. This sounds to me like a brilliant object lesson for his Franciscan disciples.  I like this message.

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds: they do not plant seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them! Aren’t you worth much more than birds?

Matthew 6:25-33, Luke 12:22-34



  1. I really enjoyed reading that. When I think of St. Fran, I think of a little three foot high concrete statue of him in a garden with his hand out to feed the birds. After reading that bird sermon, I think there was a lot more to him than that. (probably taller too 😉

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