St. Francis' love for the Birds

Turnstones (Arenaria interpres) in their winter plumage, Loughshinny Harbour, Co. Dublin

Francis reached a place in which a great number of birds of different kinds gathered. When he saw them he ran swiftly toward them leaving his companions on the road. He was a man of great fervour, feeling much sweetness and tenderness even toward lesser, irrational creatures. When he was very close, seeing that they awaited him, he greeted them in his usual way.

"May the Lord give you peace"

Francis was quite surprised because the birds did not take flight as they usually do. Filled with great joy, he humbly requested that they listen to the word of God.

"My Brother Birds ..."

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), Loughshinny Harbour, Co. Dublin

Francis said, "My brother birds, you should greatly praise your Creator, and love Him always. He gave you feathers to wear, wings to fly, and whatever you need. God made you noble among His creatures and gave you a home in the purity of the air so that though you neither sow nor reap, He nevertheless protects and governs you without your least care."

 "God made you noble among His creatures"

Blue Tits in Scarva, Craigavon, Co. Armagh - Photo by Adrian McGrath

At these words, the birds rejoiced in a wonderful way according to their nature. They stretched their necks, spread their wings, opened their beaks and looked at him. Then he blessed them, and having made the sign of the cross, he gave them permission to fly off to another place. Francis and his companions went along their way, rejoicing and giving thanks to God Whom all creatures revere.

Praise & Love the Creator!

Domestic cock, Tory Island, Co. Donegal

After the birds had listened so reverently to the word of God, Francis began to accuse himself of negligence because he had not preached to them before. From that day on, he carefully exhorted all birds, all animals, all reptiles, and also insensible creatures to praise and love the Creator, because daily invoking the name of the Saviour, he observed their obedience in his own experience.

 

From The Life of St. Francis by Thomas of Celano, 1229

 

How can we keep the air pure for birds?

What do we need to do to protect birds locally?

 

Praised be You

my Lord

with all

Your creatures

- St. Francis