Can Francis Get Catholics to Care About Ecology?

By César J. Baldelomar
Commonweal Magazine
October 1, 2023

On not looking away

The sensation of raindrops and the smell of petrichor took on special significance for me as I walked around the Eremo delle Carceri, the austere but beautiful site where St. Francis spent significant time in prayer and contemplation over eight hundred years ago. Nestled in the forests of Monte Subasio and roughly three miles from Assisi, the hermitage complex (developed after St. Francis’s death) is today home to Franciscans who welcome visitors from all over the world to tour the old haunts of the saint and his early followers.

On a humid but pleasant early June afternoon, Friar Daniele, a young Franciscan with a wealth of knowledge on St. Francis and the order, welcomed the nearly thirty participants of the Spirituality and Sustainability Conference for a meditative walking tour of the site. After an hour of ducking and contorting to fit through the narrow spaces––including the rooms (or caves) where St. Francis slept, prayed, and ate––we made our way to a simple garden for moments of reflection and conversation with Friar Daniele. Midway through the session, a light rain began to fall, as if to remind us to pause and reflect on our utter dependence on the natural world. Or perhaps it was St. Francis blessing us before we resumed our difficult and sobering explorations of our impact on the environment.

Read the full article here.