Saint Francis set us straight about the democracy of all god’s creatures, but he still enjoyed a pig’s foot stew and never thought of becoming a vegetarian….
Only less than birds, Saint Francis loved the beasts. He was always moved by the beauty of innocent lambs, symbolic of his savior. Once, at Greccio, a brother brought him a hare taken in a snare. Said Francis: Come here, little Brother Hare. Why did you let yourself get caught?” The hare ran to Francis and buried his head in the saintly breast. Francis caressed him for a time, then set him free; but the hare would merely come bounding back to his rescuer, who finally had him carried to the forest to get lost. On the other hand, Francis did not extend his tender love to the poor, familiar ass, which must be forever ill fed and well beaten to its duty. And he never had a kind word for field mice.
One of the most celebrated, and least convincing, of the animal stories is that of the wolf of Gubbio. A huge and terrible wolf appeared in the neighborhood and devoured both animals and men, so that countrymen armed themselves as if going out to battle. Therefore Francis, putting all his trust in god, issued forth to overcome him. The dreadful beast sprang ravening at the presumptuous human, and Francis made the sign of the cross upon him; whereat the wolf closed his jaws and lay down humbly. Francis reproved Brother Wolf for his misdeeds and promised him that if he would reform no man or dog would mistreat him.
Brother Wolf wagged his tail, twitched his ears, and bowed his head in acquiescence. So the pact was made; and the wolf lifted up his right paw and laid it gently in Francis’s hand. The wolf lived for two more years in Gubbio, visiting people’s houses freely, doing no hurt, and being kindly fed. Not even did any dog ever bark at him.
So the citizens of Gubbio maintain today. But in La Verna, not far away, they will tell you that Brother Wolf was in fact a brigand named Lupo, who would put his victims on a rock pinnacle, remove the plank used for access, and leave them to die for hunger or pay ransom. All this wickedness was ended by Francis’s intervention.