Eckhart, the 13th century German theologian and mystic,
believed in the equality of all creatures, as a Christian principle.
Spencer depicted Christianity as an every-day matter. When this painting
was first presented to the Royal Academy in London, it was rejected for being
outrageous and an offense to the arbiters of good taste. St. Francis is dressed
not in a brown habit, but in a green bathrobe and slippers, like Spencer's
If I were alone in a desert
and feeling afraid,
I would want a child to be with me.
For then my fear would disappear
and I would be made strong.
This is what life in itself can do
because it is so noble, so full of pleasure
and so powerful.
But if I could not have a child with me
I would like to have at least a living animal
at my side to comfort me.
let those who bring about wonderful things
in their big, dark books
take an animal
to help them.
The life within the animal
will give them strength in turn.
gives strength in all things
and at all times.
-Meister Eckhart 1260-1328
St. Francis and the Birds, Sir Stanley Spencer 1891-1959, The Tate, London