Archive for October, 2011
Although St. Francis was born in the twelfth century, his message remains as profound and significant today as it was then. An Italian friar and preacher, he founded the men’s Franciscan Order and the women’s Order of St. Clare. The son of a wealthy merchant in Assisi, he lived a life of wealth and privilege. After going off to war, however, he received a vision that inspired him to return to Assisi. He lost his taste for the worldly life and emulated the life of Jesus. He preached on the streets and soon acquired a large following. Once the Franciscan Order had been endorsed by the Pope, in 1223, St. Francis arranged for the first Christmas manger scene. In 1224, he received the stigmata, making him the first person to bear the wounds of Christ’s Passion. On July 16, 1228, he was proclaimed a saint by Pope Gregory 1X.
St. Francis is known as the patron saint of animals and the environment. He had preached of the beauty, complexity, fragility and magnificence of all creatures and Mother Earth. It has become customary for Catholic and Anglican Churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of October 4.
St. Francis believed that nature itself was a mirror of God. He referred to all creatures, regardless of how seemingly small or insignificant, as his “Brothers” and “Sisters”. He referred to the Sun as “Brother Sun” and to the moon as “Sister Moon”, to the wind and air, as “Brothers” and to the water as “Sister Water so useful, humble, precious and pure.”
The Feast of St. Francis reminds us to reflect upon the glory, purposefulness and meaningfulness of all life. In our age of technology, where we do not have much contact with the world of nature and her creatures, it is spiritually uplifting to take time to experience, celebrate and meditate upon the divinity of all life and to commemorate the life of St. Francis of Assisi.
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