Francis of Assisi

cameo_francisFrancis of Assisi (born Giovanni di Bernardone), the patron saint of Italy, animals and ecology, was a Roman Catholic who founded the Franciscan religious order. He was prononounced a saint in 1228, two years after his death. Although he had a good education and joined his father’s successful cloth business, Francis also had a somewhat misspent youth. He was a street brawler and part-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 and Jesus as his literal example. He dressed in rough clothes, begged for his sustenance, and preached purity and peace. His family disapproved his life choice of apostolic poverty, and his father disinherited him; Francis formally renounced his wealth and inheritance.

He lived with animals, worked with his hands, cleaned churches, served lepers and the sick, visited hospitals, preached in the streets, sent food to thieves and took all men and women as siblings. He began to attract followers in 1209, and with papal blessing, founded the Order of Mendicant Friars (Franciscans).Franciscans take a vow of poverty, chastity, love and obedience and follow the “Rule of St. Francis” which says: “Moreover they should respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which bear the imprint of the Most High, and they should strive to move from the temptation of exploiting creation to the Franciscan concept of universal kinship. “The Franciscan mode of charity and poverty, as well as Francis’ love of the natural world have become well-known, and most of the stories that surround his life deal with his love and compassion for animals. St. Francis of Assisi’s life is celebrated on October 4, his Feast Day.


“While you are proclaiming peace with your lips, be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.”

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

“No one is to be called an enemy, all are your benefactors, and no one does you harm. You have no enemy except yourselves.”

“It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”

“I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.”

“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.”

“For it is in giving that we receive.”

“What we are looking for is what is looking.”

“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.”


A site examining Franciscan ecological efforts in Florida: