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Francis and Nature

Jacques Dalarun, Medieval Historian

Wed, 4/3 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 010 East Pyne

Program in Medieval Studies
Marseille, BM, ms. 111, f. 139r, ca 1280-1290, from Thérouanne – © BM Marseille-IRHT

Join us for a lecture with Jacques Dalarun on April 3 at 4:30pm.

A reception will follow the lecture.
This event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP HERE.

Francis of Assisi is often cited, including by popes, as the precursor of our modern idea of ecology. But what about his actual relationship with “nature,” which he never mentions in his writings? We will attempt to answer this question through a careful examination of the most authentic medieval sources – Francis’ writings and his oldest legends – first by trying to understand the message of the Canticle of Brother Sun, then by asking about Francis’ attitude toward animals, and finally by confronting the question of his diet. We will discover a coherent body of thought, not to be confused with our modern ideologies, but which can nonetheless enlighten our thinking and our choices.


Jacques Dalarun is a French medieval historian, member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, and Corresponding Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America. He is interested in a variety of puzzling religious experiences, from Robert of Arbrissel, founder of the mixed order of Fontevraud in the early 12th century, to the holy women of 13th- and 14th-century Italy. In particular, he explores sources relating to Francis and Clare of Assisi. He has published, in English, The Misadventure of Francis of Assisi. Toward a Historical Use of the Franciscan Legends, 2002; Francis of Assisi and the Feminine, 2006; Robert of Arbrissel: Sex, Sin, and Salvation in the Middle Ages, 2006; The Two Lives of Robert of Arbrissel, Founder of Fontevraud: Legends, Writings, and Testimonies, in collaboration, 2006; Francis of Assisi and Power, 2007; The Rediscovered Life of St. Francis of Assisi, 2016; The Canticle of Brother Sun: Francis of Assisi Reconciled, 2016; The Prayed Francis: Liturgical Vitae and Franciscan Identity in the Thirteenth Century, with Marco Bartoli and Timothy J. Johnson, 2019; To Govern is to Serve: An Essay on Medieval Democracy, 2023; A Female Apostle in Medieval Italy. The Life of Clare of Rimini, with Sean L. Field and Valerio Cappozzo, 2023.

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