‘St Francis and the Birds’, by Michael Galovic

Dublin Core


‘St Francis and the Birds’, by Michael Galovic


Animals, art, Assisi, Bevagna, birds, Cardinal Ugolini, Catholicism, Christianity, Francis of Assisi, Franciscan, Giovanni Francesco do Bernadone, icon, iconography, modern art, Pope Gregory IX, Pope Innocent III, Portiuncula, poverty, preacher, preaching, religious art, religious order, saint, Saint Francis of Assisi, St Francis of Assisi, The Little Flowers of St Francis, The Poor Clares, work, ‘new icons’.


This artwork by Yugoslavian-Australian artist Michael Galovic depicts St Francis of Assisi, the thirteenth-century religious reformer, preaching to birds in his characteristic brown habit. It is an example of the artist’s modern religious artwork in which he seeks to create new versions of traditional icons, often featuring medieval figures such as St Francis or Hildegard of Bingen (see http://www.michaelgalovic.com/galleryintro.html). St Francis (Giovanni Francesco do Bernadone) was born in Assisi around 1181 to a wealthy cloth merchant. Following a dispute with his father in his twenties, he returned every stitch of clothing his father had ever given him and turned to a life of poverty and religious work, particularly by helping to rebuild churches. He founded the Franciscan Order, a religious order devoted to poverty, work and preaching, which was authorised by Pope Innocent III in 1210 and quickly grew in popularity from a few followers to a large network of Franciscan preachers and missionaries (administered by Cardinal Ugolini, later Pope Gregory IX) and an enclosed order for women, The Poor Clares. In 1224 St Francis received the stigmata. He died in 1226 and only two years later he was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX. Among many well-known stories about St Francis and animals is the scene depicted in this painting, which is described in The Little Flowers of St Francis:

So solace-filled he left them, and full well,
To penitence disposed, and, parting thence,
Betwixt Carmano and Bevagna came.
And, ardently as ever journeying on,
He raised his eyes and certain trees beheld
Fast by the way-side, on whose boughs were perched
A multitude of birds innumerable,
So that Saint Francis was amazed thereat,
And said to his companions: “In the road
Ye shall await me here, whole I go preach
Unto the birds my sisters”: and he went
Within the field, and to the birds ‘gan preach
That on the ground were sitting; and at once
Those that were on the trees did come to him,
And, one and all, stayed motionless until
Saint Francis had done preaching, and e’en then
Departed not till he had given them
His Benediction.

(James Rhoades, The Little Flowers of St Francis: Rendered into English Verse, London, 1904, pp.88-89).


Michael Galovic




Michael Galovic


Gessoed board, with egg tempera and gold leaf, mixed technique assemblage, 100cm x 70cm

Hyperlink Item Type Metadata