The other day I ran across another quote attributed to Francis. This one was in Italian, proving that it isn’t only English speakers who do this.
Quite regularly, people give Francis credit for some attractive spiritual text – a prayer, a poem, an aphorism – that he didn’t really say or write. The famous “peace prayer” is probably the best-known example. I had thought at first that it was the only one, but I was wrong. We also have “Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words” and “Ask of the beasts and they will teach you the beauty of this earth” and others (see my book for a fuller discussion). That last one – “ask of the beasts” – is paraphrased from the Bible, but it got into the Francis canon because a composer added it to a musical setting of Francis’s Canticle of the Sun. Even a New York Times reporter got the attribution wrong.
Anyway, here is the Italian quote:
Chi lavora con le sui mani è un lavoratore. Chi lavora con le sui mani e la sua testa è un artigiano. Chi lavora con le sui mani e la sua testa ed il suo cuore è un artista.
The one who works with his [her] hands is a laborer. The one who works with his hands and his head is an artisan. The one who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.
(It’s hard to say it in gender-inclusive language without losing the cadence of a folk saying.)
This was on a website called Dictionary of Quotes; I ran across it while looking for something by Oscar Wilde. The person who submitted it, in early May of this year, wrote in a few days later to say sadly, “Non e un frase di Francesco d’Assisi :- ( ” – It is not a phrase of Francis of Assisi.
But there it still is on the web page.