The Faith and Witness of Francis
This week we celebrate the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, who gave away all that he had - including his clothes - and became the founder of the Franciscan Order of traveling, teaching monks in the thirteenth century.
St Francis is commonly known to be the patron saint of animals because of his canticle on creation (which we may remember by the phrase “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”) and the stories of his sermon to the birds, his taming of the wolf, and his love for all creation. So we often bring our animals to church to be blessed on the Feast of St Francis.
The Franciscans, the little or lesser brothers, traveled around the countryside telling the story of Jesus to the people. At that time, the language of the church was Latin and many people could not read or understand it. And so Francis was thought to have set up the first creche, a living nativity scene, to help people understand the story of Christmas. Hundreds of years later, the practice of putting stained glass windows in churches to visually portray the Christian story continues this tradition. Just as Francis spoke to the animals to tell God’s story to them so he and his followers wanted to communicate with their fellow humans in ways that spoke to them, through pictures and stories they could understand.