Oscar Wilde on St. Francis of Assisi

“There is something quite unique about Christ. Of course, just as there are false dawns before the dawn itself, and winter days so full of sudden sunlight that they will cheat the wise crocus into squandering its gold before its time, and make some foolish bird call to its mate to build on barren boughs, so there were Christians before Christ. For that we should be grateful. The unfortunate thing is that there have been none since. I make one exception: St. Francis of Assisi. But then God had given Francis at his birth the soul of a poet, as he himself when quite young had in mystical marriage taken poverty as his bride: and with the soul of a poet and the body of a beggar he found the way to perfection not difficult. He understood Christ, and so he became like him. We do not require the Liber Conformitatum to teach us that the life of St. Francis was the true Imitatio Christi.
Indeed, that is the charm about Christ, when all is said: he is just like a work of art. He does not really teach one anything, but by being brought into his presence, one becomes something. And everyone is predestined to his presence. Once at least in this life each of us walks with Christ to Emmaus.”

Oscar Wilde, De Profundis (1897)


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