|Photo provided as prompt for Magpie Tales|
Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) is best known as the patron saint of animals. He is also, however, the patron saint of the environment, which seems more than appropriate to me, because, undoubtedly, the fate of animals is inextricably linked to the fate of Earth's environment.
He is well known as the founder of the Franciscan Order of monks, and less well known for founding the Order of Poor Ladies, an order for poor women. I imagine he did this because he knew so many old, poor women were unable to fend for themselves in the beginning of the 13th century, and the security of a religious order would give them not only a home, but also a caring family.
Wikimedia Commons photo
of a painting by Jusepe de Ribera
He also organized the first Christmas nativity scene, a live scene made up of people and animals to represent the birth of Jesus. Little did he know this would lead to countless carved, sculpted, painted, wood, porcelain, ceramic, glass and metal nativity scenes in all the years to come.
I'm sure he would love all the Sunday School Christmas pageants performed these days, but how would he feel about animal-rights organizations objecting to the mistreatment of animals used in live nativity scenes?
Early in the 20th century, a prayer, written by an unknown poet, became immensely popular and was attributed to Saint Francis because it is thought to embody the frame of mind which led to his canonization by the Catholic church.
There are more copies of this prayer hanging on walls in homes Catholic and non-Catholic, than there are nativity scenes and Sunday School pageants combined. Popular hymns have been sung using its words, and popular singers have recorded it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGyOtU3Es_s&feature=related
While not a Catholic myself, I have always been fond of St. Francis, because of the animals and birds, and because of his tolerance and love for the poor, the overlooked, and the downtrodden. Wikipedia quotes several versions of "The Prayer of St. Francis" and the following (which I copied from Wikipedia but use here somewhat incompletely, in the spirt of inclusiveness) is from chapter 11 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous. I am almost certain Saint Francis would, if he knew of either the prayer or the book, approve of its use therein. I believe he might even enjoy being, unofficially and very, very informally, the patron saint, as it were, of alcoholics.
Make me a channel of thy peace;
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Grant that I may seek rather
to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
Posted for Magpie Tales, hosted each week by
Tess from Willow Manor. Thanks, Tess.
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