(1182–1226) Italian mystic and church reformer who sang God’s work in all of nature—sun, moon, plants, animals, life, and death— and in the passion of Christ. His vernacular hymns, popular processions, and the first Christmas crèche (Nativity scene) were among his sensual and intuitive church reforms that appealed to people’s imagination, hope, and delight. Following one story of his peacemaking with animals, Francis is painted with a wolf. (October 4)
Francis and three other saints portrayed with animals— Seraphim, Lady Godiva, and Sadi—remind us that God’s work of creation extends to all creatures, and that some have known God in companionship with animals or through imaginative and compassionate reflection on the stories of animals.