Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio
A True Story
It was the bitterly cold winter of 1220 in the Italian town of Gubbio. The snow was falling heavily and the ground was covered in ice.
The animals in the woods and the countryside were starving. They could find no food in the freezing conditions. In order to survive, the hungry animals went into the town where the people fed them scraps of food.
One day, a hungry wolf arrived in the town. Just like the other animals, he too was searching for food.
The people were terrified of him, so they hid inside their houses. Children were not allowed to play outside. Everyone was too frightened.
The wolf returned each day.
A young man called Francesco arrived in town. He came from the nearby town of Assisi. Francesco loved animals and he knew how to speak their language.
The people of Gubbio told Francesco about the dangerous beast that was scaring the town.
So, Francesco decided to visit the wolf.
In the forest, the wolf jumped out from behind the trees, growling and showing his sharp teeth. He tried to frighten Francesco but it did not work. Instead, Francesco just stood calmly and said, "Brother Wolf, be good! "
The wolf stood still, listening to Francesco's words. The young man continued to speak:
"The people of Gubbio wish to live in peace. They are very frightened of you. If they promise to feed you every day will you promise to be their friend and to stop killing the animals?"
The wolf listened carefully.
A few moments later, he lifted his right paw for Francesco to hold. Everyone could see that the wolf had changed and that now he was their friend.
Every day, during the next two years, the wolf visited the town of Gubbio, but the people were no longer afraid! They left plates of food outside so that the wolf could eat plenty. Children stroked him and played with him.
The wolf was happy because he no longer suffered from hunger and he felt loved by the people. He was not a dangerous beast. Instead, he was a true friend.
Everybody was happy.
The people of Gubbio lived peacefully with the wolf for two years, until a tragedy occurred! The wolf died! The people of Gubbio were heart-broken and they all wept with great sadness. The wolf, who was once considered an enemy, was so terribly missed.
They had lost a great friend: their Brother Wolf.