Our Patron Saint

St. Francis of Assisi (c. 1182-1226 CE)

St. Francis is known primarily as the patron saint of animals.  He is often portrayed with a bird perched on his hand and surrounded by rapt forest creatures.  This caricature does Francis little justice.   Francis was born during a time of significant social, economic, and political change marked by a rising middle class, the shift toward a currency-based economy, and constant wars between rival city-states.

Young Francis

Francis was the son of an affluent family.  Francis is reputed to have been an easygoing student who preferred socializing with friends to study.  However, Francis became aware of the social and economic injustice around him, particularly the suffering of the poor and people living with leprosy (Hansen ’s disease).  His sincerity and selflessness attracted other men and women to join his work of caring for the poor and the sick.  This small community vowed obedience to the Gospels, poverty, and chastity.  They supported themselves through manual labor and, when necessary, begged for their food and other needed supplies.  Whatever resources they had were shared by all.  They cared for the sick, especially those living with leprosy, and worked alongside the poor laborers to whom they ministered and preached.

Franciscan Teaching

Francis’ teaching centers on a belief in, and love for, the God of Abraham.  It seeks to build a peaceful world through self-awareness, selfless behavior, respect for the physical world, fraternal love, and service to others.   His teaching focused on seeking out and alleviating the suffering of others.

Developing Peacemakers 

Peacemaking is the ultimate goal of Francis’ teaching.  Peacemaking is a process to which Franciscans are expected to commit and re-commit daily. In the Peace Prayer, Francis articulates peace as the replacement of negative emotion with positive action; the peacemaker is a conduit through which those in need receive healing and succor.  The peacemaker acknowledges his or her own needs, but intentionally defers to the needs of others.  Peacemaking is a redemptive act for both the giver and the receiver, and becomes a circular process of relationship building: each person works to meet another’s needs, and ultimately, all needs are met.

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

References

Armstrong, E. (1973).  Saint Francis: nature mystic.  Berkeley: University of California Press.

Armstrong, R., & Peterson, I. (2010).  The Franciscan tradition.  Spirituality in action.  Collegeville: The Liturgical Press. 

Catholic Encyclopedia (n.d.). [on-line].  Downloaded 8 July 2011 from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen

Chesterton, G. (1923).  St. Francis of Assisi.  London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Chesterton, G. (1957).  Francis of Assisi on nature.  In: Cunningham, L. (Ed.) (1972).  Brother Francis: an anthology of writings by and about St. Francis of Assisi.  New York: Harper & Row.

Crosby, M. (2007).  Finding Francis, following Christ.  Maryknoll: Orbis Books.

Cunningham, L. (Ed.) (1972).  Brother Francis: an anthology of writings by and about St. Francis of Assisi.  New York: Harper & Row.

Esser, C. (1970).  Origins of the Franciscan order.  Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press.

Francis of Assisi. (n.d.-a).  Blessing to Brother Leo.  [on-line].  Downloaded 20 July 2011 from http://www.shrinesf.org/prayers.htm

Francis of Assisi (n.d.-b).  Canticle of the Sun.  [on-line].  Downloaded 20 July 2011 from http://webster.edu/~barrettb/canticle.htm

Francis of Assisi (n.d-c.).  Prayer Before the Crucifix.  [on-line].  Downloaded 20 July 2011 from http://www.shrinesf.org/prayers.htm

Francis of Assisi (n.d.-d).  Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi (Peace Prayer).  [on-line].  Downloaded 20 July 2011 from http://www.catholic_forum.com/saints/pray0027.htm

Francis of Assisi (n.d.-e).  Rule of the Franciscan Order.  [on-line].  Downloaded 20 July 2011 from http://www.shrinesf.org/francis12.htm

Green, J. (1983).  God’s Fool: The life and times of Francis of Assisi.  New York: Harper & Row.

Heer, F. (1962).  St. Francis: the medieval man and his culture.  In: Cunningham, L. (Ed.) (1972).  Brother Francis: an anthology of writings by and about St. Francis of Assisi.  New York: Harper & Row.

House, A. (2001).  Francis of Assisi.  A revolutionary life.  Mahwah: Hidden Spring.

Knight, K. (2009).  Francis of Assisi.  In: Catholic Encyclopedia (n.d.). [on-line].  Downloaded 8 July 2011 from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06221a.htm

Masseron, A. (1959).  The Franciscans.  Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press

Roddy, J. (1972).  Francis of Assisi: the hippie saint.  In: Cunningham, L. (Ed.) (1972).  Brother Francis: an anthology of writings by and about St. Francis of Assisi.  New York: Harper & Row.

Sabbatier, P. (1894).  Vie de Saint Francois D’Assise. (Translated).  In. Cunningham, L. (Ed.) (1972).  Brother Francis: an anthology of writings by and about St. Francis of Assisi.  New York: Harper & Row.

Short, W. (1999).  Poverty and joy.  The Franciscan tradition.  Maryknoll: Orbis Books.