Did Francis of Assisi really say the popular quote often attributed to him, “Preach the gospel. If necessary use words”?
Nope! Some evidence to that effect is summarized by Joe Thorn at Francis, Preaching, and the Gospel. Joe then concludes:
"Preaching the gospel with words is both prescribed and described as normative for the church everywhere in the Bible. It’s not a way to do it. It is the way. The saying is at least confusing because when we say, “Preach the gospel. If necessary use words” we are saying that one can preach the gospel without words. But let’s be clear about this. Our good works and godly lives can and should compliment our confession, but they cannot themselves announce the good news."