When you think of Saint Francis, what’s the first image that comes to mind? For me, it’s an image associated with nature, especially animals.
There are many legends about Saint Francis sharing the gospel message of love with animals. A story I vividly recall from childhood was about Saint Francis calming a hungry wolf so it could live peaceably with local townspeople, their dogs, and their flocks of sheep. (The legend deeply impressed me in part because of the way it was illustrated in my little storybook–an enormous snarling wolf with saliva dripping from its teeth, faced by a calm Saint Francis, reaching his hand out.) There are also legends about Saint Francis preaching to birds, who listened with utmost attention.
The feast day is a time to remember Saint Francis’ love for animals and for all of God’s good creation. In honor of the feast, take some time to reflect on the creatures and places of natural beauty that you love!