Science & Culture

Francesco, giullare di Dio/ Flowers of St. Francis

Francesco, giullare di Dio (Francis, God’s Jester), released in the United States as The Flowers of St. Francis, is a 1950 film directed by Roberto Rossellini and cowritten by Federico Fellini. The film is based on two anonymous medieval texts, I Fioretti Di San Francesco (Little Flowers of St. Francis) and La Vita di Frate Ginepro (The Life of Brother Juniper), that describe the life and work of St. Francis and the early Franciscans.

The film has nine chapters:
1. How Brother Ginepro returned naked to St. Mary of the Angels, where the brothers had finished building their hut.
2. How Giovanni, known as “the Simpleton,” asked to follow Francis and began imitating him in word and gesture. 
3. Of the meeting between St. Clare and St. Francis at St. Mary of the Angels. 
4. How Brother Ginepro cut off a pig’s foot to feed a sick brother. 
5. How Francis, praying one night in the woods, met the leper. 
6. How Brother Ginepro cooked enough food for two weeks, and Francis, moved by Ginepro's zeal, gave him permission to preach. 
7. How Brother Ginepro was judged on the gallows, and how his humility vanquished the ferocity of the tyrant Nicalaio. 
8. How Brother Francis and Brother Leon experienced perfect happiness. 
9. How St. Francis left St. Mary of the Angels with his friars and traveled the world preaching peace.

Not well received initially, the film has become a recognized classic of world cinema and has received praise from other renowned directors.

       “The most beautiful film in the world.” – François Truffaut

       “Among the most beautiful in Italian cinema.” – Pier Paolo Pasolini

        “I’ve never seen the life of a saint treated on film with so little solemnity and so much warmth.” – Martin Scorsese 

Film poster for Francesco, giullare di Dio/Flowers of St. Francis. Source:

"The Flowers of St. Francis," Arts & Faith Top 100 Films, 

Burnette, Peter. "The Flowers of St. Francis: God's Jester." The Critereon Collection.

Francesco, giullare di Dio/Roberto Rossellini, 1950." The Masters of Cinema Series.

"The Vatican Film List." Decent Films Guide.