Wineskins Archive

February 12, 2014

Francis of Assisi and Johnny Appleseed (May-Jun 2002)

Filed under: — @ 12:48 pm and

by Greg Taylor
May-June 2002

One day Francis of Assisi was attending mass at Church of the Portiuncula, outside of Asissi, when the text was Matthew 10:7,9. When Francis heard the words of Jesus to his disciples, to go and preach and take no money, he stood up, according to Celano (Celano, First Life, IX.22), the biographer closest to Francis, and said, “This is what I wish, this is what I seek, this is what I long to do with all my heart!” Francis threw off his shoes, wrapped a rough cloth around him and started preaching repentance (Lawrence 1989, 246).

This story about Francis struck a cord with me, because my half-uncle, five times removed, John Chapman, made a similar commitment to preach Christ, love his fellow humans as if all were kin, and also renounced wealth as virtually useless except as a mean of helping others. Chapman heard a frontier preacher in the late 1800s say, “Where is the modern day John the Baptist, who dresses in animal skins and preaches repentance!?” The next day, John Chapman was the preacher…dressed in a skin, with no shoes, and proclaiming the need to repent.

My uncle John was also a monk of sorts. He preached, gave up his shoes to those in need and often walked barefoot, and planted apple trees for frontier dwellers. John began many conversations with a Bible in his hand and the question, “Care for some fresh news from Heaven today?” If the person did not have a Bible, he felt obliged to tear off a few pages from his Bible for them to read after he was gone.

My great, great, great, great, great, half uncle was nicknamed Johnny Appleseed.

For more on Francis of Assisi and his writing visit
For more on Johnny Appleseed visit

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