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Francis of Assisi the Pseudo-Saint: Part II, According to Fr. Seraphim Rose

Updated: Nov 22, 2022


The topic of Francis of Assisi has been an ongoing discussion among Orthodox Ecumenists since the 1970s, if not longer. They claim that Francis of Assisi is a Saint, despite the fact that he was a fanatic Papist, who lived after the Latins fell away from Orthodoxy into heresy and schism. Francis is someone who practiced a romantic and emotional spirituality foreign to genuine Orthodox spiritual traditions as taught by the Holy Fathers of the Eastern Orthodox Church. However, just recently the topic again has presented itself on YouTube and other social media platforms by various Orthodox clergymen who have been promulgating the heretical legacy of Francis of Assisi as someone who is on par with true Orthodox Christian saints.

It is for this reason that we are re-presenting the work of the venerable Father, Hieromonk Seraphim Rose and his work the Orthodox Survival Course. Father Seraphim, covered in his Orthodox Survival Course the heresies and delusions of Francis of Assisi throughout his text and we are here to present what this contemporary ROCOR Saint has said about this delusional pseudo-saint.

- Subdeacon Nektarios, M.A.


The Writings of the Blessed Hieromonk Seraphim Rose on the heretical

Pseudo-Saint, Francis of Assisi

“These Scholastic philosophers are quite different from Orthodox theologians. The art even of that time, Giotto, if you look at the paintings of Giotto who is supposed to be really primitive, as primitive as you can get almost in the West, you will see that the principles by which he paints are totally foreign to Orthodoxy, he introduces…He paints many pictures of Francis of Assisi and introduces an element of drama, of quaintness, of cuteness, which, of course, a person educated by icons will look at it and say, ‘This is not serious; this is some kind of folk art or something, it’s not serious.’ But Giotto is an artist in the best Western tradition, very much appreciated for his primitivity and closeness to Byzantium tradition and everything else. But already this anecdotal, unserious feelings of his makes him totally foreign to Orthodox icons. And, of course, the same way with the Saints; they already the ‘Western Saints’ they’re called — are very different from Orthodox Saints.” [1]

Blessed Seraphim Rose of the Russian Church Aboard

“This is the concept of sanctity which becomes now different from the Orthodox concept of sanctity. And the best example of this is in the life of Francis of Assisi. The fact that this man became so popular, in fact, tremendously popular wherever he went, people went around acted like Christ Himself coming to them; and they sang and accompanied him. He aroused great enthusiasm, which shows that he was very much in the spirit of his times. But if we look at his life, we see that it is so strange from the Orthodox point of view; and we can say that it’s not at all an Orthodox life of a Saint.

For one thing, he founded a new manner of life. He invented the rule of poverty because in church one day the Gospel was being preached about poverty, about the Apostles not taking anything with them when they preached, although later on, of course, the Apostles did take with them money and so forth. The first time they went out they went by two’s to the cities preaching to the Jews and took nothing with them. And he heard this in church and became inspired to invent a new rule, a new way of life, a rule of poverty based on the Gospel, as though there was no monastic tradition before him, which there was. And there were many great Saints at this time.

Of course, he would look around, perhaps the monasteries were corrupt and so forth, and he wanted something different. But there’s something already suspicious to think he’s going to do something new, a whole new rule of life, based not on Holy Fathers. And if he didn’t like the recent Latin Fathers, he could have gone back to St. John Cassian, the Egyptian Fathers and so forth, but he didn’t. He went instead to the Gospel, like the Protestants. He went and invented himself a rule of poverty. Nothing special, of course — monks are poor — but he made something special out of it, just as later we’ll see that the Catholics are making something special about the Mother of God as though she’s some kind of unearthly being and so forth. And he gave it and himself and his follower's new names. They were not now to be called just monks, they were the ‘Penitents of Assisi,’ or the ‘Lord’s Minstrels,’ they called themselves, going about singing. So already we see that they think they’re not like previous monks and ascetics, but something new, a new spirit which is very much in accord with the spirit of the times.” [2]

“And a very typical example of something new which is not at all Orthodox is what happened once when he was sick. He ate meat. And an Orthodox person who isn’t a monk maybe might eat meat during sickness or something. If he did he would feel repentant about it, ask God’s forgiveness, and feel that ‘I’m no good anyway,’ and ask that if He would, God forgive him. But not Francis of Assisi. Instead, he went out to preach to the people. There was a large crowd, thousands of people as usual, and he said, ‘Stop. Everyone stay here until I come back.’ And he went to the church nearby, and he forced two of his disciples to do whatever he told them out of obedience. One of them poured over his head ashes, a bucket full of ashes; the second put a rope around his neck and led him out before the people who were all waiting to see what’s going to happen. And here comes Francis of Assisi led by a rope with ashes on his black head, and he looks at them and says, ‘You consider me a saint, but I ate meat when I was sick.’

By this, he’s making a public display that ‘I am really supposed to be very holy, and if I made a mistake I got to make up for it so they’ll still think I’m holy’ SO we see that he’s already playing a role of a holy man who must appear before the people as pure, whereas a genuine holy man who must appear before the people as pure, whereas a genuine holy man would repent, and it’s all the better if people think he’s bad or evil. […] And of course, the people who already having new ideas about sanctity say, ‘Oh, how humble this man is!’ And actually, there is fake humility; this is not humility. And in fact, the key to his sanctity is pride.” [3]

“At his deathbed, Francis says, ‘Behold, God calls me, and forgive all my brothers both present and absent their offenses and error, and I remit their sins in so far as this is in my power.’ He was not a priest, so even in that indirect sense, he had no power; that is, he had some kind of recognizing himself the power of sanctity by which he can remit the sins of people, which is totally un-Orthodox. And his last words were, ‘I have done what I had to do. I return to God, May He have mercy on you’ That is, ‘I’m perfect; I’ve done it, I’m finished, I’m perfectly justified. Again, typical of this kind of sanctity is an incident in his life when Christ supposedly appeared to him at prayer and offered him whatever favor he might desire. Already this is romance and all fairy tales — three wishes and so forth. But this kind of familiarity of a saint with God is typical of prelest, spiritual deception. And Francis asked since he was very much burdened with his love for men, that a plenary indulgence be granted to all who confess and visit his chapel, at the center of his Order. And Christ agreed but said the Pope must ratify it. The Pope did this. And from that day to this on August Second you can get a plenary indulgence by going to his chapel, and receiving confession, which means that you will not have to suffer the temporary or temporal consequences for your sins. A whole new system of indulgences of course is exact already in this thirteenth century; it’s already there.” [28].


[1]. Father Seraphim Rose, Orthodox Survival Course (Platina: St Herman's Orthodox Monastery), 10.

[2]. Ibid, 26.

[3]. Ibid, 27-28.

[4]. Ibid, 28.

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Interestin one heretic criticised by another. Also, "orthodox survival" writen by the new origenus, worse than the first one? Also interesting. For the ones that dont know, rose was a homosexual, never baptized in the Orthodox Church,. So it is quite easy to understand that his priesthood was not feom God, but from the devil, a wolf in sheep's skin and his spirit is the same spirit of origenus ar other heretics. Also easy to see that he was a heretic, he died pretty much like arius. Dear Orthodox brothers, dont let yourselves deceived by this devil servand. He is pouring his poison in the clean water of orthodoxy to poison the souls, leading them not to God, but to…


Hello, thanks for the blog posts examining Catholic saints. As a Catholic who is interested in Orthodox saints, I think this is an interesting discussion to be had. I would however suggest looking at Padre Pio (who also had stigmata) rather than St Francis of Assisi because Padre Pio was a spiritual follower of St Francis, but lived in much more recent times and has much more documentation and testimony to examen. With Padre Pio, we have his letters to his spiritual director, photos of him, recorded miracles etc.

Replying to

Tara, Padre Pio was in the same vein as Francis of Assisi being in spiritual delusion and seemingly under the influence of the demonic. Pio did follow in the religious footsteps of Francis of Assisi as he was a Capuchin Franciscan. You can watch this video produced by Fr. Mikhail on this topic.

In Christ, Subdeacon Nektarios

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