Today, October 4, is the feast day for St. Francis of Assisi. If you’re not familiar with St. Francis of Assisi, one of the many remarkable things he’s known for is that he is the patron saint of animals. Every year on this day or around this time Catholic and Anglican churches will offer blessings for the animals in his honor, and you are invited to bring your pets for a service. One year I attended a beautiful service at The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi in San Francisco, and it was a wonderful experience. The pews were full of dogs large and small, a few reptiles and as the priest put it “one very brave cat.”
St. Francis is also closely linked to ecology and the environment. For World Environment Day in 1982 Pope John Paul II said that St. Francis’ love and care for creation offered this reminder: “not to behave like dissident predators where nature is concerned, but to assume responsibility for it, taking all care so that everything stays healthy and integrated, so as to offer a welcoming and friendly environment even to those who succeed us.”
I believe that regardless of one’s personal beliefs, these words and the values that St. Francis stood for transcend any specific religion and speak to us all.
Happy Feast Day, St. Francis!
If you’d like to read more about St. Francis of Assisi, Wikipedia has a good article here.