04 October 2010

4 October - Saint Francis of Assisi

Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron of animals and the environment (and merchants and lace-makers).  The bit about preaching to the animals is really a small part of his story, but it has overshadowed all else in modern minds.

The standard biography of the saint, "The Greater Life of Saint Francis" was compiled by Saint Bonaventure in 1263.  The 28 frescoes of the life of Saint Francis, attributed to Giotto in the Basilica Papale di San Francisco d'Assisi,  take their inspiration from this book.

Many of the stories surrounding Francis, including the preaching to the birds and the taming of the wolf, can be found in the book "Fioretti" or "Little Flowers of Francis of Assisi", from which the popular conception of the saint was formed.

One of my childhood books ("Rabbit Hill") referred to him as "The Good Saint - he who cared about us animals".   If you haven't put out your bird feeders, now is a good time to do so, as they migrate to their winter homes.  Donate to your local animal shelter - money if you have it, or maybe a case of canned pet food.  Donations to your local zoo or wildlife fund will be much appreciated as well.