October 4th marks the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi! Saint Francis was born into a noble family and had every intention of living forever in luxury until he began receiving special visions from God. His most famous vision happened when Jesus spoke to him through the San Damiano cross at an abandoned church and said, "Go and repair my church...which is wholly a ruin." Saint Francis renounced all worldly goods and rebuilt the abandoned church, while he also served the poor and lead a community in the Franciscan way.
Saint Francis is the patron saint of animals, archaeologists, ecology, Italy, merchants, messengers and metal workers. He is most well-known for his radical vows of poverty and his love for serving the poor.
Join us in celebrating Saint Francis of Assisi!
Spend time in nature to praise God's creations
As the patron saint of ecology, Saint Francis loved God's creation and saw all living things as worthy. He believed that all creation is precious to God and work together for His good.
Carve some time out of your day to spend it outdoors by:
- Care for your garden or start a garden and dedicate it to Saint Francis
- Go for a walk or hike
- Bike around your neighborhood or local park trails
- Visit a botanical garden and admire the plants and creatures
Delight in animals
One of Saint Francis' famous stories is when he preached the Word of God to birds, who stood silent and listened until he was finished speaking and blessed them. So special!
Pay attention to the animals in your community by:
- Go bird watching - Notice the beauty in God's most carefree creatures
- Take your dog for a walk or give your dog an extra treat and love
- Visit or volunteer at an animal shelter
- Read and research about your favorite animals
Make a bird feeder ornament
Follow the instructions below to make a beautiful bird feeder ornament!
- 2 envelopes of gelatin
- 2/3 cup boiling water
- 2 cups birdseed, more as needed
- Cookie cutters, especially in animal shapes
- String or twine
- Parchment paper
- Baking sheet
- Drinking straw
- Set your cookie cutters on parchment paper.
- Dissolve the gelatin in the bowl of boiling water. Then add the bird seed and continue to stir. If the mixture is runny, add a bit more bird seed.
- Scoop the mixture into your cookie cutters, pressing as you go to make sure that it’s compact.
- Stick the straw near the top to create a hole, and thread the string through the hole, tying a knot after leaving a loop for hanging.
- Once dry, pop the ornament out of the cookie cutter. Hang on a branch that is near a place where the birds can perch.
*This also makes a cute gift for a loved on or a friend who loves to care for birds!
Bake St. Francis’s favorite almond cookies
Get ready to bake some goodies in honor of Saint Francis! Did you know that when Saint Francis was on his deathbed, he asked Blessed Jacoba to bring him his favorite treat (her almond cookies!).
Ingredients: This recipe makes about 48 cookies.
- 1 3/4 cup whole almonds
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tsp flour
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 4 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- Preheat the oven to 300°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you like, toast the whole almonds before you begin by cooking them in a dry frying pan over medium heat, stirring until fragrant. (This makes the cookies even more delicious!)
- Once the almonds cool, process them in a food processor or a spice grinder until the dough has reached a mealy texture.
- In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites to loosen them up. Add everything except the sliced almonds, and stir thoroughly until it forms a dough.
- Use a teaspoon to scoop the dough onto the baking sheet, leaving at least an inch between the cookies.
- Decorate with sliced almonds.
- Bake at 300°F for 25 minutes, let cool, and enjoy!
Make a Tau Cross
The tau cross is an important figure in the Franciscan way. It is a symbol of conversion, where the unique shape serves as a reminder to turn toward God and others. Saint Francis used this sign as his personal signature. Use the template to trace the tau cross on a flat piece of clay. Use water to smooth out the edges to give it a nice, round shape. Once you finish, let it dry, and enjoy!
Image courtesy of Calum Lewis on Unsplash
Eat Italian food
Saint Francis is from Assisi, Italy (which is now located in the Umbria region of Italy). In honor of his hometown, cook your favorite Italian meal or take the family to dinner at an Italian restaurant.
A few meals to cook at home:
- Antipasto salad with salami, ham, and pecorino cheese
- Lentil soup
- Fettuccine con la ricotta
- Pasta alla Norcina
Hang San Damiano Cross in your home
Locate a special spot in your home to hang the San Damiano cross. After, pray and ask God to help you do the will of Saint Francis.
Donate goods or money to charity
Saint Francis may have come from a wealthy family, but after his conversion experience, he decided to live a life of radical poverty and sold all of his belongings. To this day, many friars and sisters of the Franciscan orders make permanent vows of poverty as part of their initiation in to the order. Use this as inspiration to give up something luxurious in your day and donate it to charity.
Pray the Canticle of the Creatures
This beautiful prayer praises God and celebrates his beautiful creations.
Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing,
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no human is worthy to mention Your name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.
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 whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who 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 our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and
How are you planning to celebrate Saint Francis of Assisi today? Let us know in the comments below!
Looking for inspiration on how to celebrate the liturgical seasons and feast days?
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