Who is St. Francis of Assisi? And why do we remember him?
We are looking forward to celebrating the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi with a blessing of the animals together on October 6th. Bring your animals and your friends with animals. This will be the first time we celebrate this feast day together so I want offer some background by answering three questions: Who is St. Francis of Assisi? Why do we remember him? Why do we bless animals? (we’ll come back to this last question in the next post).
Who is St. Francis of Assisi?
Francis was born in Assisi, Italy near Rome in the late 1100’s to a very wealthy family. He lived his early life in excess and luxury, but during a series of events including being a prisoner of war, he came to give his entire life over to following Jesus. He spent much of his time traveling around preaching the gospel and caring for the poor. He was so fervent in his preaching he would even preach to animals which is why a blessings of the animals is usually held in conjunction with the Feast of St. Francis.
Why do we remember him?
We remember St. Francis for the same reason we remember all the saints, because they point us to Jesus. Our lives as Christians are not independent or ahistorical, rather through our baptism we have been included in the family of God. A family that goes back generations. It is through this family that we learn to follow Jesus and walk in his ways. The saints show us what this looks like. Through the life of St. Francis we are reminded that following Jesus involves total self-abandonment and re-ordering all of life in light of following Jesus. The life of St. Francis also challenges us to proclaim the good news of Christ not only with our actions (as many of us might prefer) but also with our words.
God, You enable St. Francis to imitate Christ by his poverty and humility. Walking in St. Francis’ footsteps, may we follow Your Son and be bound to You by a joyful love. Amen.