This coming Tuesday, October 4th is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. Most well known for being the patron saint of animals, Francis led an amazing life. He was born in 1181 the son of a wealthy Italian father and a French noblewoman in Italy. He lived a lavish life and enjoyed all his family had to offer a wealthy young man. Soon Francis became disillusioned by his lifestyle and eventually became a soldier. When he had finished that he decided to devote his life to following and living like Christ. He gave away all his possessions and lived as a beggar wearing the rough brown robe tied with a rope you often see him pictured in. His lifestyle attracted several others and eventually the pope acknowledged his group as The Friars Minor. Francis and his followers grew in popularity and eventually began a women’s order now known as the Poor Clares. To this day the Order of Saint Francis still exists and is serving people just as Francis did. Now, how did he become the patron saint of animals? There is a legend that Francis was walking through a wooded area with some colleagues. All at once he stopped and said, “Wait here. I need to go preach to my sisters the birds.” He walked into the woods and all the birds surrounded Francis, quieted, and listened to him speak. To this day St. Francis is depicted holding a bird in many forms of art.
Each year at Peace we hold a blessing of the animals in St. Francis’ honor. We normally have it the Saturday following the feast day but that happens to be the installation service for our new bishop. Jim and I will be driving up to Rockford early that morning to attend. So, we will have a pet blessing on Saturday, October 15th at 10:00 am. We will gather for a brief litany and then I will bless each pet individually. We will have treats for both owners and pets!
See you Sunday!