This past weekend marked a celebration in honor of Francis of Assisi, a 13th century Christian saint revered for his love of animals. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.
Father Bob Warren is with the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement at Graymoor in Garrison, New York. Each year, on the Sunday closest to the feast day of Saint Francis, Graymoor opens its doors to a menagerie of animals, who add their own chorus to the service.
“Saint Francis had a great love for creation. Not only a great love of God– and, of course, that was his first love– but a great love for creation, and naturally for animals. And there are many stories in the Life of Francis where he ministered to animals.”
According to one story, Saint Francis was once called upon by the farmers of a small village, whose sheep were being preyed upon by a wolf. Saint Francis approached the wolf, and fed it a dried piece of meat. Between the wolf and the saint, a deal was struck: if the townspeople agreed to feed the wolf, it, in turn, would promise not to harm the sheep.
“He probably was the first ecologist. He called the sun ‘Brother Sun,’ and as we all know, the moon, ‘Sister Moon.’ Creation was his brothers and sisters. You know, they were part of the family and all creation praises God to him. It was a wonderful, refreshing outlook on life in the 13th century: that all creation gave praise to God and especially the animals. They are God’s special gift to us.”
This past Sunday, Graymoor welcomed parishioners and their pets to the annual blessing of the animals.
Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. I’m Jim Metzner.