I remember once, as a young editor, compiling the results of a survey on people’s favorite Catholic saints. No other saint—next to the Virgin Mary—was as popular as St. Francis of Assisi. It’s easy to see why. Who gives kids free rein to indulge in their natural love of animals?
Who, besides Mary, stands in statuesque stone among the marigolds in so many home gardens? My childhood celebrations of Francis’ feast on October 4th were always mixed with my mom’s birthday and our rural parish’s Fall Festival until I went to college and met some delightful Franciscan sisters who taught me to celebrate this light-hearted saint in a whole new way: Every October 4th we’d have an evening feast of ice cream sundaes and funny stories, quitting only when our stomachs hurt from too much laughter.
St. Francis, born in 1181, grew up the pampered son of a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, Italy. After an early life of self-indulgence, he had an encounter with God (more…)