St. Francis of Assisi spent much of his time preaching about animals, exhorting that all creatures are brothers and sisters under God. Born in 1181 in Italy, St. Francis is today celebrated as Patron Saint of Ecologists. Throughout most of his youth, he served as a soldier, but after a "conversion experience," he renounced his family's wealth and devote his life to God. He was a popular preacher at the time. His death in 1226 brought three million people together for his funeral.
In 1979, Pope John Paul II declared St. Francis the Patron Saint of Ecologists. In some ways, St. Francis of Assisi could be viewed as the original Earth Day advocate. Not only did he care for the poor and sick, but he preached multiple sermons on animals, and wanted all creatures on Earth, including humans, to be treated as equals under God. Some of his sermons included stories about birds, fish, and rabbits.
This is celebrated worldwide on October 4th. The event is most heavily celebrated in Italy in Assisi where St. Francis died and earned the title of Patron Saint of Ecologists. The event begins on October 3rd, where the town of Assisi lights oil lamps in remembrance of St. Francis. On the next day, special religious events and services are organized so people from around the world – not just in Assisi, Italy – can bring their pets to have them blessed. Many other events take place during the week to celebrate the life of St. Francis, including nature walks and games for children. The feast is also known for commemorating the food and diet of St. Francis, which included honey almond cake – the saint's favourite.
With poaching, climate change, unsustainable agriculture, and rampant deforestation for timber all contributing to habitat loss for wildlife around the world, St Francis'--and currently Pope Francis'--messages on caring for the environment still ring true today. St. Francis was a pious figure who cared about the environment and wildlife, and made it his mission to spread awareness through his sermons. Through reforestation, environmental education, climate activism, and the protection of endangered species around the world, St Francis' message and celebration of earth continues today.
Most High, all powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honour, and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendour!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene,
and every kind of weather through which you give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you light the night and he is beautiful
and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those who will find Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.