I was in Assisi during the 750th anniversary of the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi. Saint Francis of Assisi was a Roman Catholic Monk Born in 1182 and the founder of the Order of the Friars Minor , more commonly known as the Franciscans.
Many of the stories that surround the life of St Francis deal with his love for animals. Perhaps the most famous incident that illustrates the Saint’s humility towards nature is recounted in the Vigina (The Little Flowers), a collection of legends and folk-lore that sprang up after the saint’s death. It is said that one day while Francis was traveling with some companions they happened upon a place in the road where birds filled the trees on either side. Francis told his companions to “wait for me while I go to preach to my sisters the birds.” The birds surrounded him, drawn by the power of his voice, and not one of them flew away. Francis spoke to them:
- “My sister birds, you owe much to God, and you must always and in everyplace give praise to Him; for He has given you freedom to wing through the sky and He has clothed you…you neither sow nor reap, and God feeds you and gives you rivers and fountains for your thirst, and mountains and valleys for shelter, and tall trees for your nests. And although you neither know how to spin or weave, God dresses you and your children, for the Creator loves you greatly and He blesses you abundantly. Therefore… always seek to praise God.”