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Who is St. Francis

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Saint Francis of Assisi was well known for being a literal man. He celebrated life  with his exuberant and literal following of the teachings of Christ. When he was very young he start seek to live his life according to the Gospel in a very literal sense. He started giving away his possessions to those whom he thought was in greater need of them than himself. And Saint Francis lived a life that alternated between the secluded existence of intense prayer and one of actively building up the church. His relatively short life was punctuated two years before his death with his reception of the stigmata, which were the actual physical wounds of Christ, appearing in his head, sides, and hands. Saint Francis died at the age of forty-four.


Saint Francis was also a well-known lover of animals and nature, and statues of Saint Francis often show him in the company of birds or newborn animals. In fact he is the patron saint of the ecology and animals. As a practitioner of his faith, Saint Francis eschewed the things of many of God’s creations - the animals, the trees, and fields he surrounded himself with. He built by hand, adding bricks and repairing abandoned chapels in an effort to demonstrate true humility and what was considered at the time a somewhat rabid religious zeal that bordered on overzealousness. But as time passed, St. Francis good intentions bore the fruit of the legacy he is revered for today.


St. Francis has many quotes taht he is well know for. Many of his most-beloved quotes are touchstones for the way he lived his life. “For it is in giving that we receive” - this was a practice he spent his life demonstrating. As a boy, Saint Francis would often give away his belongings, much to the dismay of his earthly father. And when reprimanded by his earthly parent, St. Francis responded by removing his clothes and placing them before him. “If God can work through me, He can work through anyone” speaks to the empowerment he felt from his daily goal to live a humble and completely spiritual life. Once while walking through a town, the saing came upon a man infected with leprosy. So deep was his devotion to his Christian ideals that St. Francis threw his arms around the leper without hesitation, just as Christ had done when he walked the earth. Perhaps this was his living demonstration of his famous quote “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned”.


Of St. Francis love of nature, it was said that he could talk with the animals and they would not fear him. One story recounts the saint venturing from his followers, beckoning them to leave him so he could preach to “his sisters, the birds”. As he spoke, not one bird flew away. They were said to be captivated by the power of his voice. St. Francis thougt his ministry was not only to man, but to the animals of the world - and that both suffered from the need for God’s redemption of original sin - something both man and beast were required to atone for. This ideal has made him often associated with animals and sees him enjoy the title of patron saint of Animals and often has him the focal point of may gardens.


This article was published on Friday 22 May, 2009.

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