The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. In paragraphs ten through twelve, Pope Francis takes a look at his namesake, a saint who has constantly and consistently influenced Christian faith for eight centuries.
10. I do not want to write this Encyclical without turning to that attractive and compelling figure, whose name I took as my guide and inspiration when I was elected Bishop of Rome. I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.
I’ve often wondered which came first for Saint Francis: his concern for nature or his harmony with God. While I’m not well-read in the saint’s biographies, my sense is that when one aspires to union with God, one begins to notice the touch of grace all around. God communicates to us often through what draws our attention. Living as a pilgrim, Francis was spending more time in reflective silence than in idle chatter with his companions. I don’t think a person attuned to the voice and the will of God is going to miss the message.