We know about Saint Francis. He was a rich young man, leading the typically rowdy life of rich young men of the thirteenth century. He became a soldier; he was taken prisoner. When he returned to Assissi after a year in captivity, he resumed his old life. Then he became ill; he had a strange vision. He embraced a life of poverty; he preached in the streets. He became a serious disappointment to his father but a major figure in the Church. He founded religious orders, travelled through the Mediterranean world.
He did all this, and more, but what may matter the most to people today is the love and respect he showed for nature. He believed that nature is a mirror of God. In 1979, Pope John Paul II declared him the patron saint of ecology. We certainly need an ecology saint, don't we? One of my favorite books in our library is Brother Sun, Sister Moon : Saint Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Creatures. His words, retold by the award-winning author, Katherine Paterson. The cut-paper illustrations are magnificent.
We also find great meaning in Saint Francis' "peace prayer". I recently went to a memorial service for a founding member of my Church. We were told that she read that prayer every night of her adult life, and she lived for 97 years! She wasn't always a peaceful person ("feisty" was a word often used to describe her), but she made a very real effort to live by these words:
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.
Learn more about Saint Francis:
Instrument of thy peace /Paton, Alan. 242.72 PAT
Make me an instrument of Your peace : living in the spirit of the prayer of Saint Francis /Nerburn, Kent, 248.4 NER
The road to Assisi: the essential biography of St. Francis/Sabatier, Paul 271.302 SAB
Introduction to the devout life/Francis, 248.482 FRA
The little flowers of Saint Francis of Assisi /246.55 MAN
On the road with Francis of Assisi: a timeless journey through Umbria and Tuscany/Francke, Linda Bird 271.302 FRA
St. Francis of America : how a thirteenth-century friar became America's most popular saint /Appelbaum, Patricia Faith, 271.302 APP
Francis of Assisi/DVD F FRA
And for children:
Brother Juniper /Gibfried, Diane. E GIB
Brother Sun, Sister Moon : Saint Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the creatures /Paterson, Katherine J 242 RR PAT
Saint Francis sings to Brother Sun: a celebration of his kinship with nature/Pandell, Karen J 271.302 PAN
Brother Wolf, Sister Sparrow : stories about saints and animals /Kimmel, Eric A. J 398.2 KIM
Saint Francis and the wolf /Egielski, Richard. J 398.2 EGI
The day the animals came : a story of Saint Francis Day /Weller, Frances Ward. E WEL
Francis, the poor man of Assisi /De Paola, Tomie. J 271.3 DEP
The road to Damietta /O'Dell, Scott, J F ODE