Life of St. Francis of Assisi
St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology, was a Roman Catholic saint who took the gospel literally by following all Jesus said and did.
Pope John Paul II proclaimed St. Francis of Assisi the patron of ecology in 1979. The pope cited him for being "an example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation....
"St. Francis," he added, "invited all creation—animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon— to give honor and praise to the Lord."
St. Francis of Assisi addressed creatures as "sisters" and "brothers," that is, as equals, not as subjects to be dominated.
His Canticle to Brother Sun is famous all over the world.
Most High, Omnipotent, Good Lord,
Thine be the praises, the glory, and the honor and every blessing (cf. Apoc. 4:9.11).
To Thee alone, Most High, do they belong
and no man is worthy to mention Thee.
May Thou be praised, my Lord, with all Thy creatures (cf. Tob. 8:7),
especially mister brother sun,
of whom is the day, and Thou enlightens us through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant with a great splendor,
of Thee, Most High, does he convey the meaning.
May Thou be praised, my Lord, for 4 sister moon and the stars (cf. Ps. 148:3),
in heaven Thou has made them clear and precious and beautiful.
May Thou be praised, my Lord, for brother wind,
and for the air and the cloudy and the clear weather and every weather (cf. Dan 3:64-65), through which to all Thy creatures Thou gives sustenance (cf. Ps. 103:13-14).
May Thou be praised, my Lord, for sister water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
May Thou be praised, my Lord, for brother fire (cf. Dan 3:66),
through whom Thou illumines the night,
and he is handsome and jocund and robust and strong.
May Thou be praised, my Lord, for our sister, mother earth, (cf. Dan 3:74)
who sustains us and governs,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and green plants (cf. Ps 103:13-14).
May Thou be praised, my Lord, for those who forgive for the sake of Thy love 5 (cf. Mt 6:12),
and endure infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed those who endure them in peace (cf. Mt 5:10),
because by Thee, Most High, will they be crowned.
May Thou be praised, my Lord, for our sister, bodily death,
whom no man living can escape.
Woe to those, who die in mortal sin: 6
blessed those whom she 7 will find in Thy most holy desires,
because the second death will do them no evil (cf. Apoc 2:11; 20:6).
Praise and bless my Lord (cf. Dan 3:85),
and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility!
St. Francis, Rabbits and Fish return to top
One day a brother brought a rabbit who had been caught in a trap to St. Francis. Francis advised the rabbit to be more alert in the future, then released the rabbit from the trap and set it on the ground to go its way. But the rabbit hopped back up onto Francis' lap, desiring to be close to the saint.
Francis took the rabbit a few steps into the woods and set it down. But it followed Francis back to his seat and hopped on his lap again! Finally Francis asked one of his fellow friars to take the rabbit far into the woods and let it go. That worked. This type of thing happened repeatedly to Francis—which he saw as an opportunity to praise the glory of God. If the simplest creatures could be so endowed with God's wonder, how much the more so we humans!
Fish were also known to obey Francis. Whenever a fish was caught and Francis was nearby, he would return the fish to the water, warning it not to be caught again. On several occasions the fish would linger awhile near the boat, listening to Francis preach, until he gave them permission to leave. Then they would swim off. In every work of art, as St. Francis called all creation, he would praise the artist, our loving Creator.
St. Francis and the Wolf return to top
Perhaps the most famous story of St. Francis is when he tamed the wolf that was terrorizing the people of Gubbio. While Francis was staying in that town he learned of a wolf so ravenous that it was not only killing and eating animals, but people, too. The people took up arms and went after it, but those who encountered the wolf perished at its sharp teeth. Villagers became afraid to leave the city walls.
Francis had pity on the people and decided to go out and meet the wolf. He was desperately warned by the people, but he insisted that God would take care of him. A brave friar and several peasants accompanied Francis outside the city gate. But soon the peasants lost heart and said they would go no farther.
Francis and his companion began to walk on. Suddenly the wolf, jaws agape, charged out of the woods at the couple. Francis made the Sign of the Cross toward it. The power of God caused the wolf to slow down and to close its mouth.
Then Francis called out to the creature: "Come to me, Brother Wolf. In the name of Christ, I order you not to hurt anyone." At that moment the wolf lowered its head and lay down at St. Francis' feet, meek as a lamb.
St. Francis explained to the wolf that he had been terrorizing the people, killing not only animals, but humans who are made in the image of God. "Brother Wolf," said Francis, "I want to make peace between you and the people of Gubbio. They will harm you no more and you must no longer harm them. All past crimes are to be forgiven."
The wolf showed its assent by moving its body and nodding its head. Then to the absolute surprise of the gathering crowd, Francis asked the wolf to make a pledge. As St. Francis extended his hand to receive the pledge, so the wolf extended its front paw and placed it into the saint's hand. Then Francis commanded the wolf to follow him into town to make a peace pact with the townspeople. The wolf meekly followed St. Francis.
By the time they got to the town square, everyone was there to witness the miracle. With the wolf at his side, Francis gave the town a sermon on the wondrous and fearful love of God, calling them to repent from all their sins. Then he offered the townspeople peace, on behalf of the wolf. The townspeople promised in a loud voice to feed the wolf. Then Francis asked the wolf if he would live in peace under those terms. He bowed his head and twisted his body in a way that convinced everyone he accepted the pact. Then once again the wolf placed its paw in Francis' hand as a sign of the pact.
From that day on the people kept the pact they had made. The wolf lived for two years among the townspeople, going from door to door for food. It hurt no one and no one hurt it. Even the dogs did not bark at it. When the wolf finally died of old age, the people of Gubbio were sad. The wolf's peaceful ways had been a living reminder to them of the wonders, patience, virtues and holiness of St. Francis. It had been a living symbol of the power and providence of the living God.
John Feister is editor of AmericanCatholic.org, managing editor of Catholic Update and an assistant editor of St. Anthony Messenger.
by St. Francis of Assisi
Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfolds rich blessing on our way,
O praise God! Alleluia!
The fruits and flowers that verdant grow,
Let them his praise abundant show.
O praise God, O praise God,
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
Francis Blesses the Birds
One of Francis's most famous sermons is one he gave to a flock of birds. One day while Francis and some friars were traveling along the road, Francis looked up and saw the trees full of birds. Francis "left his companions in the road and ran eagerly toward the birds" and "humbly begged them to listen to the word of God." One of the friars recorded the sermon, which overflows with Francis's love for creation and its Creator: "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."
Thomas of Celano records that the birds stretched their necks and extended their wings as Francis walked among them touching and blessing them. This event was a turning point of sorts for Francis. "He began to blame himself for negligence in not having preached to the birds before" and "from that day on, he solicitously admonished the birds, all animals and reptiles, and even creatures that have no feeling, to praise and love their Creator."
*Source:Catholic Conservation Center
Prayer For Animals
God Our Heavenly Father, You created the world to serve humanity's needs and to lead them to You. By our own fault we have lost the beautiful relationship which we once had with all your creation. Help us to see that by restoring our relationship with You we will also restore it with all Your creation. Give us the grace to see all animals as gifts from You and to treat them with respect for they are Your creation. We pray for all animals who are suffering as a result of our neglect. May the order You originally established be once again restored to the whole world through the intercession of the Glorious Virgin Mary, the prayers of Saint Francis and the merits of Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ Who lives and reigns with You now and forever. Amen.
Saint Francis of Assisi
0 God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship, with all living things, our little brothers to whom thou hast given this earth as their home in common with us.
May we realise that they live not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee, and that they love the sweetness of life even as we, and serve Thee better in their place than we in ours.
First uttered by - St Basil, Bishop of Caesarea, 370 AD