Who is this Francis Guy?
St. Francis of Assisi - the patron saint of animals and animal lovers. But who was this guy that was born way back in the 1180’s well before the Reformation? Francis was born into a very wealthy Italian family that made their money trading silk. His family indulged his every whim, making him the stereotypical spoiled rich child - never knowing what it was to want or do not have the basic necessities of life. Then, joining the army, Francis was set well on his way for a profound conversion experience. He was captured by the enemy and became very ill.
Upon release and returning to his home, he began his work as a merchant again. However, the church and prayer figured prominently in his new life. Ultimately, Francis left his life of comfort eventually forming the order of the Franciscans.
(Very abbreviated history - more can easily be found by simply googling Francis of Assisi)
While escaping to the solitude of the wilderness, Francis considered the animals there his brothers and sisters. It is said that as he spoke and preached, birds would fly from all over to sit and listen to him. Always, it is said, Francis happily blessed these animals as God did on the very day of creation. My favorite story about Francis is the one about the wolf. A great wolf was eating animals (and people in some of the accounts) of a small village. Francis promised to help. When the wolf charged him, he began to pray. After he prayed, the wolf and Francis had a conversation and a deal was struck...if the villagers were to feed the wolf, he would never attack or eat them or their livestock. The deal was kept by both the villagers and the wolf.
Fact? Fiction? Myth? Reality?
All I know is that the mention of St. Francis conjure up images of a man surrounded by animals - blessing them and keeping them safe. This Sunday, October 6, 2019 is the Commemoration of Francis at St. Stephen’s. I invite you to bring your well behaved pet - on a leash or in their kennel - to church at 10:00 am. We will bless the pets during the service and enjoy the fellowship of our four-legged companions.
Yours in Christ,