Queering Francis

Tyrone Grima

Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology




This paper will analyse the process of the creation of an original script and a short performance focused on the relationship between the Catholic figure of Francis of Assisi and the body, as framed by queer theory. Over the centuries and in various cultures, the Catholic institution has been a body of oppression, particularly to minorities. On the other hand, the institution has produced a significant number of figures who were resilient and who have defied the system, both internally and externally. Frequently, these figures are depicted in a tame manner, so that they are seen in a more conservative and orthodox light. Francis of Assisi is one of these figures. Particularly in and after the administration of the Order under Bonaventure, Franciscanism developed in a way that the image of the Poverello was manipulated and softened down. By returning to the pre-Bonaventure documents on the saint, and reflecting on them through queer theory, this project attempts to show the defiant traits of this saint, particularly in the way how he perceived and related with the body and physicality, including deformation. This presents a liberated approach to the body and queers the way how the body has been oppressed both by the Institution, which suppresses the body, as well as by society, that celebrates only select body forms. The second part of the paper ‘translates’ into practice the theoretical framework through a case-study of a theatrical project.


keywords: religion, queer studies, queer performance