Feast day: October 4 Patron saint of: Animals, Ecology, Archaeologists, Italy, Merchants, Messengers, Metal Workers
To read more about the stigmata of St. Francis, click here.
To read more about the life of St. Francis, click here.
Several years ago I was given the opportunity to do an Italian pilgrimage and Assisi was on the list. Since that day I have longed to go back. As I walked up the steep cobblestone road to the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi I passed by adorable little shops, quaint cafes, and unassuming locals. It was surreal to make it to the top of this hill where the Basilica stands and looks out over Assisi and neighboring villages. It was more beautiful than I knew how to take in, unlike anything I've ever seen before, and I pray that many years from now God will grant me the ability to retire there.
I distinctly remember seeing his relics and that of St. Clare of Assisi, those relics made him so real to me. And as our guide recounted stories about him it struck me, this is more than the saint we find resting atop a birdbath.
This was a man who abandoned all wealth, of which he had plenty. A man who had the strength of will and faith to found his own order. And impressively, a man who challenged Islamic scholars to a trial by fire. He would walk with them across hot coals and according to St. Francis the one of the true faith would be unharmed. See picture below.
St Francis before the Sultan (Trial by Fire) Giotto fresco cycle in upper basilica of St. Francis in Assisi
To celebrate I'd like to first call you to something that I like to do every feast of St. Francis.
1. Do something EXTRA for your faith that you don't typically do. I usually think to myself, "if St. Francis can walk across hot coals to prove how convicted he was about his Catholic faith, then I can do X."
Let me give you some ideas to make this tangible. If you usually pray a decade of the rosary during the day, go for all five decades. If you usually just go to Mass on Sunday, try for a daily Mass today or this week. Maybe someone in your family or your friend circle needs your witness, be brave enough to share it with them. Think about what you feel God has put on your heart, and then go do that thing! I think that the best way we can seek to honor the saints is by truly striving to emulate them in our own way, so let's begin here.
Other St. Francis Inspired Experiences to Try
2. Do some gardening or go on an outdoor walk.
St. Francis is the patron saint of ecology and he had a deep sense of appreciation for God's creation.
3. Show your pet a little extra attention today, or drop by your local pet store to see the animals.
One of the things we used to love to do as kids was visit our local pet store, maybe your children will appreciate this too.
St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and it is commonly known that he used to preach to and about animals.
4. Give yourself 5-10 minutes of silence today and in that time pray the Peace Prayer of St. Francis.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
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.
5. Give up one of your daily luxuries and give that to the Church or a charity.
St. Francis quite literally abandoned all his wealth to live a life of virtue and closeness to Christ.
6. Make these adorable DIY birdseed ornaments. Click here!
7. Go to Mass today.
We can always seek to give God glory through uniting ourselves with Him in the most sacred liturgy.