St Francis of Assisi: Patron Saint of Animals

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In a country plagued by socio-economic woes, staggering political problems and security issues beyond measure it takes a lot (or maybe a little) from society to divert its attention to the less acknowledged.

As Charlie Chaplin once said, feeding a hungry animal is feeding one’s soul, and so today I dedicate this post to animals worldwide.

First off an interesting list of the well-known who have been renowned for their affinity and compassion to our less fortunate furry friends:

In no particular order,

Brian May, Khloe Kardashian, Kate Winslet, Dennis Rodman, Brigitte Bardot, Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen De Generes, Dave Mathews, Heather Mills and Paul McCartney, Pamela Anderson, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

I gave my beauty and my youth to men. I am going to give my wisdom and experience to animals -Brigitte Bardot

Now off to the meaty stuff. Currently the ten most endangered animals include the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, the Amur Leopard, Javam Rhinoceros, Greater Bamboo Lemu, Northern Right Whale, Western Lowland Gorilla, Leatherback Sea Turtle, Siberian Tiger, Chinese Giant Salamander, and Kakapo Parrot.

Amur Leopard Cub

As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. -Pythagoras

The first known animal protection legislation in the English-speaking world was passed in Ireland in 1635. It prohibited pulling wool off sheep, and the attaching of ploughs to horses’ tails, referring to “the cruelty used to beasts.”

Historian Roderick Nash (1989) writes that, at the height of René Descartes’ influence in Europe—and his view that animals were simply automata—it is significant that the New Englanders in then colonials America created a law that implied animals were not unfeeling machines.

Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader and later Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.

In England, and under the rule of Oliver Cromwell which lasted from 1653 to 1659, animal rights were seen as essential in accordance to Puritan notions. Cromwell disliked blood sports, which included cockfighting, cock throwing, dog fighting, bull baiting and bull running. According to historians, Puritans interpreted the biblical dominion of man over animals to mean responsible stewardship, rather than ownership. However animal protection laws were overturned during the Restoration [Monarchy] when Charles II was returned to the throne in 1660.

But coming back to Lebanon and with respect to activist groups BETA and Animals Lebanon among others; it seems the only way we can catch the attention of some is through quoting religious figures or saints.

And for this reason, I am using the help of one my favorite saints: St Francis of Assisi.

From a life of riches, to later on losing all his taste for worldly wealth, Francis was widely known and venerated for his love for animals.

This is why October 4rth both celebrates World Animal Day and the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi.

It has been argued that no one in history was as dedicated as Francis to imitate the life, and carry out the work, of Christ in Christ’s own way.

He believed that nature itself was the mirror of God. He called all creatures his “brothers” and “sisters,” and even preached to the birds and supposedly persuaded a wolf to stop attacking some locals if they agreed to feed the wolf.

In his “Canticle of the Creatures” (“Praises of Creatures” or “Canticle of the Sun”), he mentioned the “Brother Sun” and “Sister Moon,” the wind and water, and “Sister Death.”


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