Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) is one of the most revered of the Christian saints. He was distinguished for his joyous piety, asceticism, and compassion that extended to all living creatures. Francis was the son of a prosperous merchant who had him disinherited because of his extravagant gifts to the poor. Soon after this, Francis began to minister to the lepers near Assisi and then rebuilt a ruined chapel for them. In 1209, he received papal permission to begin his own order and established the Franciscan order. He traveled extensively throughout France and Spain, where his compassion for Nature spread. One legend has him preaching a sermon to Sparrows at Alviano, and another tells of him saving bees from freezing to death. On this day, many Christian schools allow the students to bring their pets to class so they can be blessed by the resident priest.