WHO IS HE? ST ASSISI - THE PATRON SAINT OF ANIMALS & THE ENVIRONMENT...
April 22, 20195 min read
So who is this guy anyway? It’s a big call to be name the Patron Saint of animals & the Environment so we wanted to dig a little deeper and find out WHY! Not growing up Catholic or surrounded by any patron saints (Only when we would run around the house calling out for Saint Anthony to help find the keys or a lost jersey!) it has been so interesting hearing all the stories behind these Saints. And the story behind our Patron saint of Animals & the Environment is no different…. The long and the short of it is that St Francis of Assisi was a nature-loving hippie. He didn’t care for possessions, clothing, fancy food fighting or anything of the sort. Instead he absolutely adored all of nature and the planets beings from worms to wolves and respected them as much as he respected the Pope…. Life Hack much? Think how different the world would be today if we all put each and every animal, or living organism on the same playing field as we do ‘pop stars’ and the like (Ok, Ok, little Daisy at Puppy School might lead a pretty epic life but what about those poor sea birds feeding off micro plastic? Or the Elephants in Africa getting hunted for their tusks? You get my drift…)
Come with and take 10 minutes to learn about this world-renowned legend, Mr Francis of Assisi.
In 1182, Mr Pietro Bernardone returned from a business trip to France to find out his wife had given birth to a son in his absence. Far from being excited about this beautiful new baby, Pietro was in fact furious because she'd had his new son baptized Giovanni after John the Baptist. The last thing Pietro wanted in his son was a man of God! Instead he wanted a man of business, a cloth merchant like he was, and he especially wanted a son who would reflect his infatuation with the French country & culture. Pietro soon got his own way and he renamed his son Francesco, alluding to his love and desire of France and to which was soon shortened to ‘Francis’.
Growing up Francis enjoyed a very rich easy life due to his father's wealth and the permissiveness during this time. From the very beginning of his life, it is said that absolutely everyone loved and adored Francis. He was always happy, very charming, and a born leader. If he was picky, people excused him. If he was ill, people took care of him. If he was so much of a dreamer he did poorly in school, no one minded. In many ways he was too easy to like for his own good…
During his youth, no one ever tried to control Francis or teach him and he soon became the leader of a crowd of young people who spent their nights enjoying wild parties. – Did someone say Ibiza raves? Glastonbury Festival? Hola Francis! (Okay maybe not but the similar version in the 1100’s perhaps? Either way, I think Franny & I would have bonded!)
Francis fulfilled every hope of Pietro's; From falling in love with France to being a good businessman. But Francis wanted more than wealth. Not holiness but Francis wanted to be a noble, a knight.
After a stint in the war against Assisi (Just outside of Rome), spending a long dark year in a dungeon and a failed attempt to head off back into battle, Francis had a calling from Christ to ‘repair his Church’. With no money he sold some of his fathers fabrics to pay for the stone to repair the Church. Despite his good ambitions, Francis’ Dad unfortunately saw this as an act of theft and pronounced him a disappointing madman!
Disappointed and hurt that his own family would think of him in this way Francis not only gave back the money but stripped off all his clothes until he was wearing only a shirt. In front of the crowd that had gathered to see this public act, he said, "Pietro Bernardone is no longer my father. From now on I can say with complete freedom, 'Our Father who art in heaven.'" Wearing nothing but castoff rags, he went off into the freezing woods singing. When robbers beat him later and took all of his clothes, he climbed out of the ditch, and carried on singing again.
From then on Francis had nothing...and everything.
He continued a life of living in harmony with the land, nature and animals and treated all beings exactly the same… worms, rabbits, grass, a lonely flowers by the side of the road. He felt that everything in nature were apart of his brotherhood; a sparrow was as much his brother as the pope and by surrendering himself and daring everything for love’s sake, the earth became his home and all creatures his brothers and sisters.
Francis spent up to half of each year praying in different places amongst nature and the wilderness, living in hermitages, caves, under lean-to's, and on mountainsides, interspersing this with preaching to animals and plants as well as to people. Through these experiences and the recognition of his own relatedness to nature, helped Francis to become more liberated and live a bountiful life in honour of a greater source.
Gradually St. Francis realised that he was truly a brother to the sun, moon, stars, fire and water, and to the whole cosmos. Expressing his attitudes through a simple and peaceful lifestyle, Francis models an ecological consciousness, a spiritual and mystical vision of all creatures as brother and sister aligning on one planet. Francis made this discovery through prayer and a simple but sincere interaction with other people, animals and nature over the course of his life. What a guru!
Today with all our modern comforts and conveniences, we tend to be alienated from the earth and from ourselves… I think we could all learn a little from keeping St Francis by our side and our busy daily lives – don’t you?
OTHER STORIES FROM ST FRANCIS’ LIFE It was said that Francis could tame wild animals. One story tells of a vicious wolf in the town of Gubbio that was killing people and sheep. The people of the town were frightened and didn't know what to do. Francis went to the town to confront the wolf. At first the wolf growled at Francis and prepared to attack him. However, Francis made the sign of the cross and told the wolf not to hurt anyone else. The wolf then became tame and the town was safe.
It is also said that one day Francis was talking to some birds when they began to sing together. Then they flew into the sky and formed the sign of a cross!
As well as our continued support for 1% for the planet where we donate 1% of our annual sales to 2 charities close to our heart, this EARTH DAY we are donating 100% of profits from our Online store to Sustainable Coastlines to help support the amazing work they do for our planet. In a modern world, we think Francis would be a big fan of that!
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