Posted on in Saints Are Us by The Rev. David Marshall
Mystic, Stigmatic, and Founder of the Franciscan Family
Celebrated world wide on October 4th
Step away from the bird feeder and bird bath — there is more to Francis than that! First, the attached logo is the universal symbol of Francis and those who follow him. It is the cross with the wounded hands of Christ and Francis.
He was baptized John; however, his father, a wealthy Italian merchant, had a deep love of France and gave his son the name of “Francis” in deference to that country.
We are talking about over 800 years ago, and still this lover of Jesus Christ, this beggar and preacher, holds the world captive. He wanted his brothers to literally live the Gospel of Jesus, so they were to go out teaching and preaching, serving others in their needs, while begging for their food for that day. The church over the years has given this life style a “proper name” — mendicants, in reality beggars. When I was a friar on mission in New York City, I was assigned to go out in habit on the streets and beg alms for the missions in Central America. This was a humbling as well as an exciting experience.
Why the wounds of Christ in the hand of Francis? In the year 1224 on October 4th, the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross, Francis received the Stigmata, the wounds of Christ in his hands, feet, and side, while praying on Mt. Alvernia. Later appear the nail heads in the wounds. He is the first documented stigmatic in Christian History. There have been others over the centuries; it is said about 25 exist in the world today. The most known in recent history is St. Padre Pio, an Italian Friar. Many medical and scientific studies have been done, as well as miracles documented. Why is this important to us? It teaches us to open the eye of the heart to see the wonders God is still working throughout the world — anything is possible to God.
So what is with the birds and nature? Francis loved all of creation as a reflection of God; there are many legends around his interaction with the rest of creation. He called the sun brother and the moon sister. There have been many movements over the centuries that have taken him as a patron.
It is fitting that we bless these others who share our lives around the celebration of his life, so on Sunday, October 5th, bring your pets to Holy Eucharist for blessing and recognition of how they glorify the Creator God by living out their lives in witness to us.
See you next week,
bro. John, O.C.P.