Practical Advice to Reform Your St. Francis Misquoting

Time after time, I hear this repeated as a quote of St. Francis of Assisi:

“Preach the Gospel always! When necessary, use words.”

Quoting canonized saints is good. This quote, however, does not come from St. Francis (see here and here). And this shouldn’t surprise us. It’s certainly not how we understand evangelization in our modern world.

But, I get why it’s an appealing quote to many. It contains some truth (preach the Gospel always!) but lacks the nuance to explain the relationship between witness and words–both essential for a Catholic understanding of evangelization.

So, I’ve got a new offer for all of those committed to [deliberately] erroneously attributing a quote to St. Francis for the sake of making a theological point. Next time, try this [actual] quote from Blessed Basil Moreau, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross:

p.s. today is Blessed Basil Moreau’s birthday. So seriously, stop using a made-up St. Francis quote and start using a more nuanced and historical one! 😉


4 thoughts on “Practical Advice to Reform Your St. Francis Misquoting

  1. LOL. We should all have a list of quotes we like, and then fictitiously attribute to famous canonized saints to help them spread like wildfire. 😉 😉 😉


  2. This false quote from St. Francis regarding using words when necessary is one I’ve heard many times. Sorry to hear that it is a false quote. I’ve never actually used this quote. Could never quite remember how it went. Thanks for the info. It made me laugh reading the replys.


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