Editor's Notes: St Francis and the Wolf
St Francis lived in 12th and 13th century Italy. He believed nature was the mirror of God and preached to animals and birds. He is credited with creating the first Nativity scene, which he made with live animals.
The story of St Francis and the Wolf comes to us from the Fioretti di San Francesco, an account of life written about a century after his death. The wolf was terrorising the people of Gubbio, a town in central Italy: people were too scared even to leave the city.
St Francis approaches the wolf and commands it to cease in the name of God. The wolf immediately submits and St Francis makes a deal: for as long as the wolf does not attack the people or the livestock, it will be well fed. In agreement, the wolf places its paw into St Francis' hand.
St Francis is the patron saint of animals and nature and is popular with children. Peter has always enjoyed bringing nature into his paintings and you'll often find hidden animals in the background or on frames - for example, the salamander on the Road to Emmaus and on Christ the Teacher.
There are two versions of this composition, completed around the same time; both were sold or gifted to friends of the family.