Original Research

The Second Christ, Saint Francis of Assisi and ecological consciousness

Hendrik Viviers
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 35, No 1 | a1310 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v35i1.1310 | © 2014 Hendrik Viviers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 October 2013 | Published: 06 May 2014

About the author(s)

Hendrik Viviers, Department of Religion, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Even though the life stories of Jesus and the so-called second Christ, Francis of Assisi, incline to the fantastical, their value for a modern ecological consciousness is defendable. Behind Francis’ personification of nature and his mystical experiences of nature lie an intuitive sense of interconnectedness and interdependence, of being fully part of the natural web of life (confirmed by empirical science). The same is true of the immanence of Jesus. Religious figures like Francis and Jesus can provide a sound moral attitude towards caring for the natural world, but attitudes need to be informed by scientific knowledge to act ecologically correct. A partnership between attitudes and knowledge hopefully contains good news for a sustainable ‘green’ planet.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: Ecological hermeneutics (part of liberation theology or hermeneutics) challenges traditional theologies’ often anthropocentric bias in the intra-disciplinary arena. It respects the interconnectedness or interdependence of human and non-human life, including the non-organic, empirically substantiated by natural science. This shared realisation allows for a fruitful inter-disciplinary discourse with science to address the global ecological crisis.


Jesus; St. Francis of Assisi; ecological consciousness; interconnectedness; web of life; ‘green’ and ‘grey’


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