The Day of White Smoke: Pope Francis, A Look at “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” (1972)

2 minutes
Graham Faulkner as Saint Francis of Assisi in “Brother Sun, Sister Moon” (1972)

In 1972, in the height of the hippie movement, Italian director, Franco Zeffireli, made the film Brother Sun, Sister Moon. A precursor to his 1977 star-studded mini-series, Jesus of Nazareth, this 70s classic tells the story of Saint Francis of Assisi. It only seemed fitting that I talk about this film today because of the new papal election of Pope Francis.

Fresh off his success of Romeo and Juliet, Zeffireli’s directing style and lush cinematography soon became his signature after this film. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Art Direction, the film takes things that identified the late 60s and early 70s and put them into a film. Ripe with folk songs and a specific acting style, Brother Sun, Sister Moon has always been one of my favorite films. I think the fact that it seems very hippie-dippy and makes me happy is a testament (no pun intended. Get, Biblical humor?) to its staying power. The message of peace and love is not  a new one, but it’s also something that is never going to change. It goes to show how a life that is simple and humble can be a full life. Saint Francis has always been one of my favorite saints. Even if he was not a saint, he is still a person that people should look up to in regards to living their daily lives. He came from wealth, but rejected it to become one of the most recognized names in history. He is also one of only two patron saints of Italy (the other being St. Catherine of Sienna) and the patron saint of animals and the environment. Maybe he’s watching over the places that bear his name because, apparently, San Francisco is one of the most beautiful places ever. So, Saint Francis, in honor of you and the Catholic Church’s new pope: Francis (originally named Jorge Bergoglio, is the first Latin American pope in the Church’s history.), a clip from Brother Sun,  Sister Moon:


The Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
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