Feast Day of Saint Francis

Italy is a land of holidays, first among them feast days dedicated to a number of patron saints. Each town in Italy holds a special allegiance to a particular saint, and commemorates the anniversary of his or her death with a mixture of solemn Masses and processions, and festive fairs and fireworks.

assisi-view-mt-subasio-umbria-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Of all the saints’ days in Italy, one of the most widely celebrated is the Feast Day of Saint Francis, which falls on October 4th. Patron saint of Italy (though not, oddly, of his home town of Assisi), Saint Francis is one of the most beloved of all historic figures in the Catholic church, and the current Pope’s choice of Francis as his papal name has only added to this humble figure’s worldwide popularity. He’s especially noted for his inclusion of animals in his preaching and many churches worldwide offer a blessing of the animals in honor of his feast day.

sheep-umbria-cr-maria-landers(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Each year, Assisi holds a two-day celebration of the Feast Day of Saint Francis, marked by a High Mass in the Basilica of Saint Francis (usually attended by the Pope) and a number of religious ceremonies and processions on the 4th. The following day, the town streets are lined with vendor stalls as the year’s most important outdoor market fills much of the historic center.

horses-maremma-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Even those who can’t make it to Assisi can honor this remarkable man’s enduring and universal message of respect for the environment and love for all of divine creation by setting aside a moment this weekend to take a long walk in the country, volunteer a few hours at a local animal shelter, or simply pause to watch the sun set.

steer-maremma-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and You give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens You have made them bright, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which You give Your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

--From Saint Francis' Canticle of the Sun

sunset-foligno-umbria-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Related links:
Fire and Water: the Feast Day of San Giovanni
I Santi e I Morti: Italy’s All Saints and All Souls Days
Walk in the Paths of St. Francis and St. Clare in Assisi


Contributor:
Rebecca Winke

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Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist: Italy