“Not to hurt the creatures, brethren, is our first duty to them,
but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission –
to be of service to them wherever they require it.”
–Saint Francis of Assisi
A Franciscan monk who lived in the thirteenth century, Francis was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant in Italy; but following a dramatic vision, he forsook his high-spirited wealthy lifestyle and embraced poverty. He founded the Franciscan Order, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the Third Order of St. Francis for women and men who continued to live in the world, without adopting the monastic lifestyle.
Francis lived simply and felt a kinship with all of creation. He regarded the animals and other things in nature as his brothers and sisters in Christ. He is credited with creating the first Christmas manger scene, using live animals to help people better understand the nativity of Our Lord.
Francis is beloved for his efforts to bring about peace and justice in the world, for working to alleviate poverty and oppression, and for his defense of our fragile planet. Many churches hold ceremonial pet blessings on his feastday, and his statue is a popular feature in gardens and birdbaths. This mosaic St. Francis stands in my backyard.
Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen