Thursday, February 21, 2008

Saint Francis of Assisi Patron Saint of Animals

Francis of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a mite of self-importance.

Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi's youth. Prayer—lengthy and difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolized his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: "Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy."

From the cross in the neglected field-chapel of San Damiano, Christ told him, "Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down." Francis became the totally poor and humble workman.

He must have suspected a deeper meaning to "build up my house." But he would have been content to be for the rest of his life the poor "nothing" man actually putting brick on brick in abandoned chapels. He gave up every material thing he had, piling even his clothes before his earthly father (who was demanding restitution for Francis' "gifts" to the poor) so that he would be totally free to say, "Our Father in heaven." He was, for a time, considered to be a religious "nut," begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work, bringing sadness or disgust to the hearts of his former friends, ridicule from the unthinking.

But genuineness will tell. A few people began to realize that this man was actually trying to be Christian. He really believed what Jesus said: "Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or silver or copper in your purses, no traveling bag, no sandals, no staff" (see Luke 9:1-3).

Francis' first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels. He had no idea of founding an order, but once it began he protected it and accepted all the legal structures needed to support it. His devotion and loyalty to the Church were absolute and highly exemplary at a time when various movements of reform tended to break the Church's unity.

He was torn between a life devoted entirely to prayer and a life of active preaching of the Good News. He decided in favor of the latter, but always returned to solitude when he could. He wanted to be a missionary in Syria or in Africa, but was prevented by shipwreck and illness in both cases. He did try to convert the sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade.

During the last years of his relatively short life (he died at 44) he was half blind and seriously ill. Two years before his death, he received the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side.

On his deathbed, he said over and over again the last addition to his Canticle of the Sun, "Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister Death." He sang Psalm 141, and at the end asked his superior to have his clothes removed when the last hour came and for permission to expire lying naked on the earth, in imitation of his Lord.

Also known as
Francis Bernardone; il Poverello
Memorial
4 October
Profile
Son of Pietro Bernadone, a rich cloth merchant. Though he had a good education and became part of his father's business, he also had a somewhat misspent youth. Street brawler and some-time soldier. Captured during a conflict between Assisi and Perugia, he spent over a year as a prisoner of war. During this time he had a conversion experience, including a reported message from Christ calling him to leave this worldly life. Upon release, Francis began taking his religion seriously.

He took the Gospels as the rule of his life, Jesus Christ as his literal example. He dressed in rough clothes, begged for his sustenance, and preached purity and peace. His family disapproved, and his father disinherited him; Francis formally renounced his wealth and inheritance. He visited hospitals, served the sick, preached in the streets, and took all men and women as siblings. He began to attract followers in 1209, and with papal blessing, founded the Franciscans based on a simple statment by Jesus: "Leave all and follow me." In 1212 Clare of Assisi became his spiritual student, which led to the founding of the Poor Clares. Visited and preached to the Saracens. Composed songs and hymns to God and nature. Lived with animals, worked with his hands, cared for lepers, cleaned churches, and sent food to thieves. In 1221 he resigned direction of the Franciscans.

While in meditation on Mount Alvernia in the Apennines in September 1224, Francis received the stigmata, which periodically bled during the remaining two years of his life. This miracle has a separate memorial on 17 September.

In the Middle Ages people who believed to be possessed by Beelzebub especially called upon the intercession of Saint Francis, the theory being that he was the demon's opposite number in heaven.
Born
1181 at Assisi, Umbria, Italy as Francis Bernardone
Died
4 October 1226 at Portiuncula, Italy of natural causes; relics in Assisi, Italy
Canonized
16 July 1228 by Pope Gregory IX
Patronage
Patron saint against dying alone; patron saint against fire; patron saint of animal welfare societies; patron saint of animals; patron saint of Assisi Italy; patron saint of birds; patron saint of Catholic Action; patron saint of Colorado; patron saint of archdiocese of Denver Colorado; patron saint of dying alone; patron saint of ecologists; patron saint of ecology; patron saint of environment; patron saint of environmentalism; patron saint of environmentalists; patron saint of families; patron saint of fire; patron saint of Franciscan Order; patron saint of Freising, Germany; patron saint of Italy; patron saint of diocese of Kottapuram, India; patron saint of lacemakers; patron saint of laceworkers; patron saint of diocese of Lancaster, England; Massa, Italy; merchants; diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey; Nambe Indian Pueblo; needle workers; peace; Quibdo, Choco, Colombia; patron saint of diocese of Salina, Kansas; patron saint of archdiocese of San Francisco California; patron saint of San Pawl il-Bahar, Malta; patron saint of Sante Fe New Mexico; patron saint of archdiocese of Sante Fe New Mexico; Sorbo, Italy; patron saint of tapestry workers; patron saint of zoos
Representation
birds; deer; fish; lamb; skull; stigmata; wolf

Prayers By Saint Francis of Assisi
Canticle of Brother Sun

Most High Almighty Good Lord, Yours are praise, glory, honor and all blessings; To You alone! Most High, do they belong, and no man is worthy of speaking Your Name!

Be praised, Lord, with all Your creatures, and above all our Brother Sun, who gives us the day by which You light our way, and who is beautiful, radiant and with his great splendor is a symbol to us of You, O Most High!

And be praised, Lord, for our Sister Moon and the Stars. You created them in the heavens bright, precious and beautiful!

And be praised, Lord, for our Brother the Wind and for the air and the clouds and for fair weather and for all other through which You sustain Your creatures.

And be praised, Lord, for our Sister Water, so useful, and humble, and chaste!

And be praised, my Lord, for our Brother Fire, through whom You light up the night and who is handsome, joyful, robust, and strong!

And be praised, my Lord, for our Sister, Mother Earth, who supports and carries us and produces the diverse fruits and colorful flowers and trees!

Praise and bless the Lord and give thanks to Him and serve Him with great humility!

Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister, bodily Death from whom no living man can escape!

Woe only to those who die in mortal sin; but blessed are those who have done Your most holy will; for the second death can cause them no harm!

Saint Francis of Assisi

Immaculate Conception Novena Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Hail, holy Lady,
Most holy Queen,
Mary, Mother of God,
Virgin made Church;
Chosen by the most holy Father in heaven,
consecrated by him,
with his most holy beloved Son
and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
On you descended and in you still remains
all the fulness of grace
and every good.
Hail, his Palace.
his Tabernacle.
Hail, his Robe.
Hail, his Handmaid.
Hail, his Mother.
And Hail, all holy Virtues
who, by the grace
and inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
are poured forth into the hearts of the
faithful
so that, faithless no longer,
they may be made faithful servants of God
through you. Amen.

Novena to Saint Francis of Assisi

Glorious Saint Francis, who voluntarily renounced all the comforts and riches of your home to follow more perfectly the life of poverty and abnegation of Jesus Christ:

obtain for us, we pray, a generous contempt of all things in this world, that we may secure the true and eternal things of heaven.



Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O glorious Saint Francis, who during the whole course of your life continually wept over the passion of the Redeemer, and labor most zealously for the salvation of souls:

obtain for us, we pray, the grace of weeping continually over those sins by which we have crucified afresh Our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may attain to be of th e number of those who shall eternally bless His supreme mercy.



Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O glorious Saint Francis, who, loving above all things suffering and the cross, merited to bear in your body the miraculous stigmata, by which you became a living image of Jesus Christ crucified:

obtain for us, we pray, the grace to bear in our bodies the mortifications of Christ, that we may merit one day to receive the consolations which are infallibly promised to all those who now weep.



"If we be dead with Christ Jesus, we shall live also with Him," says the Apostle; "if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." (2nd Timothy 2.11-12)

Pray for us, Saint Francis, that we may obtain the graces and favors we ask for in this novena; pray for us, especially, that we may obtain the grace of perseverance; of a holy death and a happy eternity.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

-Pagani

Prayer to Saint Francis of Assisi

Most lovable and popular Saint, son of a go-getting and wealthy merchant of Assisi, you discarded earthly possessions for the Savior you loved so dearly and you won innumerable persons for Jesus. How greatly we need in our day unselfish and just merchants. Inspire them with the love of Christ for others and with the desire for things that endure. Amen.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

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;
and 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. Amen

Prayer For Animals

God Our Heavenly Father, You created the world to serve humanity's needs and to lead them to You. By our own fault we have lost the beautiful relationship which we once had with all your creation. Help us to see that by restoring our relationship with You we will also restore it with all Your creation. Give us the grace to see all animals as gifts from You and to treat them with respect for they are Your creation. We pray for all animals who are suffering as a result of our neglect. May the order You originally established be once again restored to the whole world through the intercession of the Glorious Virgin Mary, the prayers of Saint Francis and the merits of Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ Who lives and reigns with You now and forever. Amen.

Saint Francis of Assisi

Prayer for the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi

O God, Who, through the merits of blessed Francis, magnifies Your church, enriching it anew with spiritual offspring: make us, like him, to disdain the goods of earth, nor at any time to lack the comforting gifts of heaven.

-from the Roman Missal

Prayer in Honor of the Sacred Stigmata of Saint Francis of Assisi

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who when the world was growing cold, in order that the hearts of men might burn anew with the fire of Your love, did in the flesh of the most blessed Francis reproduce the stigmata of Your passion: be mindful of his merits and prayers; and in Your mercy vouchsafe to us the grace ever to carry Your cross, and to bring forth worthy fruits of penance.

-To all the faithful who, upon the five Sundays which immediately precede the feast of the sacred stigmata of Saint Francis of Assisi, or upon any other five consecutive Sundays during the year, shall exercise themselves either in pious meditation, or in vocal prayer, or in any other work of Christian piety, in honor of the said sacred stigmata, a plenary indulgence is granted once a year, on each of the five Sundays, on the usual conditions.

-Pope Leo XIII, 21 November 1885

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