St Francis of Assisi

St Francis and his ‘Canticle of Creation’

My latest project is a mural for a primary school. The concept is an interpretation of St Francis of Assisi’s ‘Canticle of Creation’. It’s a beautiful piece of poetry which inspires an appreciation of the beauty of nature around us. And although religious poetry might not be for everybody, it is also quite visionary in the sense that someone who lived hundreds of years ago, (before the industrial revolution and fierce debate on climate change), was able to grasp that the planet that we live on is precious and we really are subject to it’s powers, rather than the other way around. The idea is to tie a fun piece of lively artwork to the appreciation of what’s around us with a respect for our fellow people, precious resources and planet.

Apart from his visionary ‘green’ ideas, St Francis was visionary in that this piece of literature is considered to be one of the first written in Italian, rather than Latin – a really bold step for his time. Liberating people from sitting through another trawl of Latin, which only monks, priests and very wealthy would have understood, opened a small crack in the doorway towards the average person being able to understand and appreciate a written piece of literature and participate rather than just spectate. There are many different versions of English translations, here is one from Wikipedia. Have a read:

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

To You, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and You give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens You have made them bright, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which You give Your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of You;
through those who endure sickness and trial.

Happy those who endure in peace,
for by You, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing Your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve Him with great humility.

We are hoping that this mural will engage some of those ideals, thoughts and forward thinking in the little minds that play on the play ground and pass through these classrooms. I have started on the background design with some great help from the teachers and parents, and will be getting some more assistance from some ‘little hands’ at a later stage. Here are a couple of photos so far. I’ll keep posting as we go.

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