Francis de Sales was born in Italy in 1181 and he was beatified in 1661 by Pope Alexander VII, who then canonized him four years later. Francis was a soldier in his youth, but after a conversion experience, he renounced his family’s wealth and devoted his life to God.
Francis' devotion to God was expressed through his love for all of God's creation. St. Francis cared for the poor and sick, he preached sermons to animals, and praised all creatures as brothers and sisters under God. His death in 1226 brought three million people together for his funeral. He is well known as the author of the author of the Canticle of the Creatures.
"O Most High, all-powerful, good Lord God, to you belong praise, glory, honour and all blessing. Be praised, my Lord, for all your creation and especially for our Brother Sun, who brings us the day and the light; he is strong and shines magnificently. O Lord, we think of you when we look at him. Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Moon, and for the stars which you have set shining and lovely in the heavens. Be praised, my Lord, for our Brothers Wind and Air and every kind of weather by which you, Lord, uphold life in all your creatures. Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Water, who is very useful to us, and humble and precious and pure. Be praised, my Lord, for Brother Fire, through whom you give us light in the darkness: he is bright and lively and strong. Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Earth, our Mother, who nourishes us and sustains us, bringing forth fruits and vegetables of many kinds and flowers of many colours. Be praised, my Lord, for those who forgive for love of you; and for those who bear sickness and weakness in peace and patience - you will grant them a crown. Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister Death, whom we must all face. I praise and bless you, Lord, and I give thanks to you, and I will serve you in all humility."The message of St. Francis is even more prescient today than it was in the 12th century. We are living during what has been described as a mass extinction event where half of the animals on earth are at risk of disappearing. Humans are the primary cause of this extinction and combating climate change may be our best hope of preserving these threatened species.
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