The Joyful Radicalism of Saint Francis of Assisi

Thursday July 11 | Taizé, Church of Reconciliation

In this first big week of the summer, it is a great joy to see so many of you here. You have come from all over Europe, especially from Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, but I would also like to greet especially the young people from other continents, from many countries of the world. Some of you will stay in Taizé for the whole summer as volunteers. Welcome!

This week is very special, because we are hosting a beautiful event: a meeting of more than 200 young Franciscans from all over the world.


You recognize them by their habit, of a color different from ours. I especially thank their leader, Brother Michael Perry, Minister General of the Friars Minor, for inviting his brothers for this week in Taizé.

Although Francis of Assisi lived a long time ago, in the Middle Ages, he still inspires us today. Yes, he fascinates us by his joyful radicalism in living the Gospel.

Brother Roger loved Francis of Assisi; he often referred to him. And I would like to mention some points that connect us to the Franciscan family.

The first common point between us is the importance of community life in following Christ. Like the first Christians, we would like to live a sharing of goods and constantly rejuvenate ourselves in common prayer. The new life that Jesus brought is a life of fraternity. Together we want to be, by our lives, a sign of the love of God in today’s world.

The second point is that it is imperative to simplify our way of life to truly become followers of Jesus. How could we follow Christ, who became poor among the poor, while being suffocated by material goods? Of course, there is poverty which is not chosen, misery, which must certainly be fought against. But by simplifying our existence, we are in solidarity with those who have very little and we remain attentive to the essentials.

The essential thing, for Saint Francis, is my third point: the praise that animates an intense inner life. Yes, each of our prayers must leave a lot of room for gratitude and thankfulness. In praise, we discover all that God gives us to go forward in life. It is a great challenge, but St. Francis accepted it: even in moments of suffering he knew how to give thanks, remembering that God is greater than all. His words that we sing in the song Laudemus Deum, No. 66, help us to enter this praise.

Finally, St. Francis of Assisi was a man of dialogue. He did not hesitate, for example, to go to meet a Muslim sultan—something unthinkable for his time. In his wake, we would like to have the courage to put our faith into action in genuine dialogue with people who think differently from us.

To close, I would like to remind you that in Taizé we have a stained-glass window depicting Saint Francis. It is in the small Romanesque church in the village, on the left towards the front. It’s a little bit hidden, but it’s worth looking for. If you go tomorrow, be discreet, because this church is a place for silence and meditation in Taizé.

This stained-glass window represents a very important facet of Francis’ message: his attention to Creation. Yes, as a precursor, he understood that Christians had to be attentive to all living beings, who are for us a gift from God. Yes, let’s take care of our wonderful planet, which is suffering so much today.

So we can all say thank you to dear Brother Michael, and thank all of you, Franciscans from all over the world, for your testimony. Surely these days will still give us some good opportunities to enter into dialogue.

Now, Amayita will read the names of all the countries present in Taizé this week, which represent a great diversity of peoples, and the children will distribute flowers to them.

There are flowers for those from Guinea-Bissau, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Chad, Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.

For those from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile and Argentina.

For those from Canada, United States and Australia.

For those from Russia, Finland, Sweden, Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom and Ireland.

For those from Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Malta, Switzerland, France, Spain and Portugal.

For those from Egypt, Jordan, Palestinian Territories, Israel, Lebanon and Iraq.

For those from Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Timor-Leste, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Last updated: 16 July 2019


[1Photo: Sophie Desproges-Gotteron