Feast Day: 4 October
Patronage: Animals, Ecology
Pope Francis describes St Francis as ‘a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace’ (Laudato Si’).
St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and ecology, and was born in Italy around 1181-1182.
After a wild youth and a brief career as a soldier, Francis had a conversion experience that inspired him to renounce his family’s wealth and devote his life to God. His dedication to poverty, humility, obedience, patience and compassion soon attracted followers and, in 1209, he received permission from Pope Innocent III to form a new religious order known as the Friars Minor (commonly called the Franciscans).
Francis’ deep love of God overflowed into love for all God’s creatures.
On October 4, 1226, Francis died in the town of Assisi and was quickly canonized by Pope Gregory IX.
“It is my hope that the inspiration of Saint Francis will help us to keep ever alive a sense of ‘fraternity’ with all those good and beautiful things which Almighty God has created. And may he remind us of our serious obligation to respect and watch over them with care, in light of that greater and higher fraternity that exists within the human family.”
—From Pope John Paul II, Message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace: Peace with God the Creator, Peace with all of Creation (1990)