St Francis of Assisi: Feast Day on October 4

st-francis-of-assisi-and-birds

Every year, on October 4, Catholic churches around the world celebrate the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. A feast to remember and honor St Francis of Assisi, for nearly 800 years, as the patron saint of animals and the environment. In the US, many churches bless animals at mass on October 4, so attendees can expect to see a few furry faces. Many people also donate blankets, food, and other supplies to animal shelters around the country, to honor St Francis of Assisi, who was more than a man: this man who taught love and compassion for even the smallest of God’s creatures.

St. Francis was born in Assisi, Italy, in 1182, and is still known for founding the Franciscan Monastic Order. Although Francis was born into a life of wealth and health, he traded it for a life of poverty after he saw holy visions. His father wanted Francis to be a successful merchant like himself, but Francis’ experience in battle prevented it. In Perugia, Francis was captured and sat in a dungeon for a year before his father paid the ransom that set him free. In prison, Francis became sick with high fever and had his first holy vision; he heard God telling him to help the sick.

Not long after, while he was in church praying, God told him to repair the church and restore its honor. St. Francis of Assisi, without hesitating, donated every penny he had, which caused some tension between him and his father. Ultimately, Francis decided to leave his family and take a vow of poverty. He decided he would rather live in poverty while helping others, than live a life with money. He preached the Christian gospels and began to develop a following. Not only did people listen, but they followed him to Rome to share their beliefs with the Pope.

Francis is known for his love of nature and animals. In addition to preaching to humans, he also preached to animals. One story goes that he had a conversation with a number of birds and afterward, all the birds began singing together and flew into the sky in the shape of a cross.

Images honoring St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animalsSt. Francis and the Wolf

In addition to sharing the word of God with all His creatures, Francis was also said to have a magic touch that tamed even the wildest of animals. Once, the town of Gubbio was attacked by a vicious wolf. They lived in fear, until Francis of Assisi visited. It is said that the wolf prepared to attack him, until Francis performed the sign of the cross and told the wolf to leave the town. The animal then became tame and never bothered anyone again.

Because of his gentle demeanor and devout preaching, to honor St. Francis of Assisi, he was made a saint only two years after his death, in 1226.

Do you honor St. Francis of Assisi in a special way on October 4? Tell us about it. Leave a comment below or send us a message. Everlasting Footprint encourages everyone to celebrate the lives that impacted them.

 

About Liz Grear

Liz Greer, MFA, teaches creative writing, tutors students, and dabbles in ballroom dancing, book binding, paper making, and playing hopscotch between Chicago and New Jersey. She dreams of running a writing workshop in a prison, because she believes words can change things. Maybe not all things. But enough things.

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