Among the artistic representations of Saint Francis of Assisi, we see him accompanied by a wolf. Did you know this is due to a particular miracle? Below is the amazing story of the Wolf of Gubbio.
The city of Gubbio, Italy was besieged by a wolf that devoured animals and attacked humans, to the point that the inhabitants had to leave the city armed, as if they were going to war.
Saint Francis, moved by the suffering of the people, decided to go meet the wolf, to whom he made the sign of the cross, and said:
“Come here, brother wolf! I command you, on behalf of Christ, not to harm me or anyone.”
Surprisingly, the animal stopped running and approached Saint Francis meekly, lying down at his feet.
Then, the saint said to him:
“Brother wolf, you are doing harm in this region, you have caused great evil by mistreating and killing God’s creatures without his permission; and you have not been content with killing and devouring beasts, but you have had the audacity to kill and cause harm to men, made in the image of God. “For all this, you have deserved to be hanged as an evil thief and murderer. All the people shout and murmur against you and the whole city is your enemy. But I want, brother wolf, to make peace between you and them, so that you do not offend them from now on, and they forgive you for all past offenses and stop chasing you, men and dogs.”
At these words, the wolf lowered his head as a sign of accepting Saint Francis’ offering. The saint then told him:
“Brother wolf, since you agree to seal and maintain this peace, I promise to make the people of the city continually provide you with what you need as long as you live, so that you will no longer starve; because I know very well that out of hunger you have done the evil that you have done. But, once I have obtained this favor for you, I want, brother wolf, for you to promise me that you will no longer harm any man in the world or any animal. Will you promise me?”
The wolf bowed his head again.
Then, Saint Francis extended his hand to seal the promise. The animal then raised its front paw and gently placed it on the saint’s hand.
Saint Francis said to him:
“Brother wolf, I command you, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come with me now without any fear; We are going to conclude this peace in the name of God.”
Both marched towards the city amidst the astonishment of the inhabitants. In the square, Saint Francis preached:
“God allows such calamities because of sins; and that the fire of hell, which must last forever for the damned, is much more to be feared than the ferocity of a wolf, which can only kill the body; And if the mouth of a small animal instills so much fear and terror in so many people, how much more fearful will the mouth of hell be?”
After the sermon, Saint Francis said:
“Listen, my brothers: the brother wolf, who is here before you, has promised me and given his faith to make peace with you and not to harm you in any way from now on if you commit yourself to give him what he needs every day. I stand as a guarantor for him that he will faithfully comply with the peace agreement on his part.”
Then, all the people, with one voice, promised to feed him continually. And Saint Francis said to the wolf in front of everyone:
“And you, brother wolf, do you promise to fulfill the peace agreement with them, that is, that you will not harm either men, animals, or any creature?”
The wolf knelt and lowered his head, signaling his willingness to fulfill all the conditions of the agreement.
Saint Francis added:
“Brother wolf, I want you to give me faith of this promise outside the city gates, so that you now come back to give me faith before all the people that I will not be deceived in the word that I have given in your name.”
At that moment, the wolf raised his right paw and put it in Saint Francis’s hand.
“The wolf continued to live for two years in Gubbio; He meekly entered houses from door to door, causing no harm to anyone and receiving harm from no one. The people fed him politely, and, although he went around the city and through the houses like this, the dogs never barked at him. Finally, after two years, brother wolf died of old age; The inhabitants felt it very much, since, seeing him walk so meekly through the city, he brought to their memory the virtue and holiness of Saint Francis.”
(Source: “The Little Flowers of Saint Francis,” Chapter 21)