St. Francis of Assisi, a 13th-century Catholic saint, is widely recognized for his deep connection with nature and his teachings on caring for creation. He is often referred to as the patron saint of animals and the environment.
Many parishes have a blessing of the animals on his feast day, October 4th. This blessing is often marked by barks and meows, although the goldfish brought for a blessing swim quietly. The blessing of fishing boats and fleets also occurs on or near the feats of St. Francis. The custom of the Blessing of the Fleet is a tradition observed by fishing and boating communities, where they pray for a bountiful harvest and the safety of those at sea.
St. Francis’s approach to caring for creation is rooted in his spiritual beliefs and his understanding of the interconnectedness of all living beings. This can be a powerful message for us today as we struggle against racial violence against people of color, Jewish believers, immigrants and the poor and unhoused.
St. Francis’s teachings on caring for creation are influenced by his belief in the inherent dignity of all life forms. He saw all creatures, from the smallest to the largest, as part of God’s creation and deserving of respect and care. His compassionate attitude extended to animals, plants, and even inanimate elements of nature.
One of the most well-known stories about St. Francis and his relationship with creation involves his interactions with animals. It’s said that he could communicate with animals and that they would gather around him as he preached. He viewed animals as his brothers and sisters, sharing the same divine origin. This belief in the interconnectedness of all life guided his teachings on responsible stewardship of the environment. He often preached to birds and is said to have tamed a wolf that was terrorizing a town.
His famous Canticle of the Sun, also known as the Canticle of the Creatures and Laudes Creatursrum was written around 1224 in an Umbrian dialect of Italian but has since been translated into many languages. It is believed to be the first work of literature written in the Italian language with a known author.
In this hymn, he addresses the elements of creation—sun, moon, wind, water, fire, and earth—as his siblings, acknowledging their divine origins and role in praising God.
St. Francis’s approach to caring for creation has had a lasting impact on both the Catholic Church and the broader environmental movement. His emphasis on simplicity, humility, and respect for nature resonates with modern environmental ethics. Many people draw inspiration from his example and seek to incorporate his principles into their own lives as a way to promote environmental sustainability and preserve the beauty and diversity of the natural world. Organic gardening, national parks and preserves are just a few modern-day examples.
In 2015, Pope Francis released an encyclical titled “Laudato si’,” which translates to “Praise Be to You,” and subtitled “On Care for Our Common Home.” This encyclical is heavily influenced by St. Francis’s teachings and focuses on the ecological and social challenges facing the world today. It emphasizes the moral responsibility to care for the planet, protect the environment, and address issues such as climate change, pollution, and loss of biodiversity.
In summary, St. Francis of Assisi’s approach to caring for creation is characterized by his deep spiritual connection with nature, his recognition of the interconnectedness of all living beings, and his emphasis on respect, compassion, and responsible stewardship of the environment. His teachings continue to inspire individuals and communities to take action to protect and preserve the natural world.
“The Abbey is already “passively” living out the teachings of Laudato Si in several ways. The beauty and natural integrity of our grounds are maintained by our facilities staff, who do not treat the grass and mowed spaces with harsh chemicals. A good portion of the Abbey’s 80+ acres are woodland, which are home to an abundance of flora and fauna. There are several fields which are considered “fallow meadow,” where we do not mow. This allows the grass to grow tall and encourages natural habitats for ground-nesting birds as well as the native pollinators which burrow into the earth. Not mowing also allows for the roots of the grass to grow deep into the soil, preventing erosion and sequestering carbon. There is also a stream that runs across the length of the Abbey property and a spring that provides water to the Springhouse Pond. In November 2022, with the help of Fr. Carl Braschoss, O. Praem. and Abbey facilities staff, we planted 8 fruit trees and 10 berry bushes on the Abbey grounds, near the Fox Hollow Walking Trail. We also constructed a compost bin and have begun composting food scraps from our kitchen. Our dream is that we might nurture greater connectivity with people, planet, and God by living the teachings of Laudato Si’:
In addition to living out the teachings of St. Francis and Laudato Si, the abbey is providing an opportunity for people to meet, share and pray at the St. Francis of Assisi Feast Day of Recollection: Caring for Creation with Andrew Del Rossi, ThD and Fr. Andrew Ciferni, O. Praem. Date: Tuesday, October 4, 2023Time: 10:00am-2:00pm Offering: $30, includes lunch. Copy and paste this link to get tickets.https://daylesford.org/event/st-francis-of-assisi-feast-day-of-recollection-caring-for-creation/#tribe-tickets__tickets-form
Also, you can further help implement the teaching of St Francis and Laudato Si by volunteering. We could use some volunteers, as equally inspired by the message of Laudato Si’, and who are interested in being a part of developing this ministry at Daylesford Abbey. Our most immediate need is helpers to maintain our fruit and berry orchard. Expertise and experience are not required. It is more the enthusiasm of your spirit and prayers that we seek that, called together by God, we might be stewards of and co-collaborators in Creation. If you are interested, please email Andrew Del Rossi at email@example.com or call 610-601-8702
St. Francis, Pope Francis, Laudato Si, Caring For the Environment- inspirational leaders and ideas inviting us to implement their wisdom and help care for the environment. Opportunity Awaits! We are called! We are chosen!
We say Yes to the work and the mission!