FRANCIS OF ASSISI
Patron Saint of Animals
by Pastor Richard E. Edmonds
Francis had a dream in which he believed that God was calling him
to repair his church and interpreted this to mean that he was to repair
the church in San Damiano near Assisi. Francis was soon to renounce
all of his possessions and his family treasures including his clothes
- a decision which disturbed his family deeply. Dressing as a beggar,
he was joined by companions who were called brothers. They rebuilt
the church of San Damiano and traveled throughout central Italy preaching
for people to turn from materialism to Christ. They worked or begged
for their food. When there were eleven brothers, Francis gave them
a short Rule and received approval from the pope to form a brotherhood
which Francis called the Friars Minor.
Francis called for simplicity of life; poverty and humility before
God. With the brothers, he worked to care for the poor. One of his
first actions after his conversion was to care for lepers. Thousands
were drawn to his sincerity and joy.
Francis is known as the patron saint of animals. There are many stories
about the life of Francis that deal with his love for animals. Two
are noted here:
One of the most famous stories speaks of a time in which Francis walked
by a tree filled with birds and begged them to listen to the word
My brothers, birds, you should praise your Creator very
much and always love him; he gave you feathers to clothe you, wings
so that you can fly, and whatever else was necessary for you. God
made you noble among his creatures and he gave you a home in the purity
of the air; though you neither sow nor reap, he nevertheless protects
and governs you without any solicitude on your part.
One of his companions reported that the birds stretched their necks
and extended their wings as Francis walked among them touching and blessing
them. Francis believed that all creatures can praise and love their
A second story tells of a wolf which was terrifying the city of Gubbio
near Assisi. Having compassion for the frightened residents, Francis
went up to the hills to find the wolf. Walking alone because all of
his companions had fled in fear, Francis eventually found the wolf,
made the sign of the cross, and instructed the wolf to come to him and
hurt no one. He said to the wolf:
Brother wolf, you do much harm in these parts and you
have done great evil. All these people accuse you and curse you. But
brother wolf, I would like to make peace between you and the people.
Francis led the wolf into town. Surrounded by the startled citizens,
he made a pact between them and the wolf. He explained that the wolf
had terrorized the people because he was hungry. He told the people
to feed the wolf regularly and the wolf would no longer prey upon them
or their flocks. This legend exemplifies his love for animals and the
Every year on the Sunday nearest his October 4th feast day (the day
of his death in 1226,) many people of faith around the world host services
where animals are blessed. These occasions celebrate both Francis's
and God's compassionate concern for all creatures.
OF BROTHER SUN
Francis of Assisi
Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours, all glory,
all honor and all blessings. To you alone, most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures Especially Sir Brother
Sun, Who is the day through whom You give us light. And he is beautiful
and radiant with great splendor. Of you, most High, he bears the likeness.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars. In the
heavens, you have made them bright, precious and fair.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air. Fair and stormy,
in all weather moods By which You cherish all that you have made.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water; So useful, humble,
precious and pure.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire Through whom You light
the night And he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth Who sustains
and governs us Producing varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Praise be You, my lord, through those who grant pardon For love of
You; and bear sickness and trial. Blessed are those who endure in
peace. By You, most High, they will be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Death From whom no-one living
can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are they She
finds doing Your Will. No second death can do them harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks. And serve him with great