Blessing of the Animals

St. Francis of Assisi preached the ability and duty of all creatures to praise God and the duty of humanity to protect and enjoy nature as both the stewards of God’s creation and as creatures ourselves. Many of the stories that surround the life of St. Francis, patron saint of animals and ecology, say that he had a great love for animals and the environment.

Saint Francis of Assisi was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone (1181/1182 – October 3, 1226). He was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. He founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis and one of the most venerated religious figures in history.[1]

“As a friend of the poor who was loved by God’s creatures, Saint Francis invited all of creation – animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon – to give honor and praise to the Lord. The poor man of Assisi gives us striking witness that when we are at peace with God we are better able to devote ourselves to building up that peace with all creation …”[39]

Perhaps the most famous incident that illustrates the Saint’s humility towards nature is recounted in the “Fioretti” (“Little Flowers”), a collection of legends and folklore that sprang up after the Saint’s death. One legend shares how he would preach to his sisters the birds. [35]Another legend tells of a terrorizing wolf in a town where Saint Francis lived. In the story, he found the wolf and commanded it to come to him and hurt no one. Miraculously the wolf closed his jaws and lay down at his feet. Francis led the wolf into the town where a pact was made between the wolf and the villagers. To show this people they would not be harmed, Saint Francis blessed the wolf.

In celebration of St. Francis Day, join St. Michael’s this Saturday at 10:00 am in the Rose Garden for a special liturgy and individual blessings for pets. This is a wonderful opportunity to honor the relationship between humanity and creation, following in the footsteps of the Patron Saint Francis of Assisi.

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