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FACT CHECK: Did St. Francis Of Assisi Say, ‘He Who Works With His Hands And His Head And His Heart Is An Artist’?

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An image shared on Facebook claims that St. Francis of Assisi once staid, “He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”

Verdict: False

There is no evidence that this saying originated with Francis.

Fact Check:

Francis, who gave up his wealth to live in evangelical poverty during the late 12th and early 13th centuries, founded the Order of Friars Minor, commonly known as the Franciscans. He is also the patron saint of the environment and animals.

While he wrote considerably on a variety of topics, the quote attributed to him in the Facebook post appears nowhere in his written works. A search of his complete writings turned up no matches.

“This quotation is not found in any contemporary sources nor in any of St. Francis’s own authentic writings,” said Augustine Thompson, the theology department chair at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, in an email to the Daily Caller News Foundation. “I have never heard of it before – and it does not even sound like something a thirteenth-century Italian would say. In fact, it sounds to me like something a nineteenth-century Romantic would say.”

Etymologist Barry Popik traced the earliest instance of the expression in print back to 1923, where it appeared unattributed in the Boys’ Workers Round Table magazine. (It uses the word “artisan” instead of “craftsman” and “brain” instead of “head” in this instance.)

It has also been attributed to lawyer Louis Nizer, who employed the quote in his 1948 book “Between You and Me,” according to Popik.

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Daniel Christof

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