By Lisa J. Kiser
Environmental History, Vol.8 (2003)
Introduction: Popular associated with the environmental movement, St. Francis (ca. 1182-1226) has long been figured as having an intense devotion to nature and an unwillingness to participate in what his admirers have seen as the tendency of Judeo-Christian culture to promote ideologies resulting in the degradation of the natural world. Especially recognized as showing kindness to animals, St. Francis often is invoked as a figure providing an alternative model of human interaction with other living species, one based not on dominance and mastery of them, but on equality and love. Such conceptions of Francis survive unabated not only in popular devotion to the saint today, but also in the writings of some modern historians of environmental thought, who have found in the medieval texts about St. Francis a genuinely distinctive set of ideas about the potential for nondestructive human interactions with the natural world.