Saint Francis’s Brother Wolf


  • Detlev M.G. Weber University of Washington



Saint Francis, Wolf of Gubbio, Caritas, Gotteskindschaft, Doubling


The following article focuses on the story “How St. Francis Tamed the very Fierce Wolf of Gubbio” from the miracle collection“The Little Flowers of St. Francis,” specifically on the cultural value of the wolf in the hagiographic tradition. While the wolf in general represents the social outcast and antagonist, the wolf of Gubbio expands on this role into a reflection of social grievances presented in the city of Gubbio. Saint Francis’s biographical details, imminent in the “Legenda Aurea,” set the stage for a psychoanalytical doubling between the wolf, the saint, and the people of Gubbio. This mutual reflection follows from their economically similar lifestyle with the wolf as a destitute outcast and Saint Francis as a mendicant monk. It is directly instigated in the significant instance when Saint Francis calls the ferocious wolf ‘brother.’ Their common parentage invokes the religiousGotteskindschaft and an equilibrium of social standing. Saint Francis identifies with the wolf, and, along this line of compassion and caritas, he creates a peace treaty between the wolf and the citizens of Gubbio. This article examines how this peace also depends on the maintenance of individual freedom.