Saint Francis of Assisi (born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone) was an Italian Roman Catholic friar and preacher who renounced a wealthy lifestyle to embrace a life of poverty and aid the poor. He is one of the most beloved religious figures in history. Francis founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Pope Gregory IX canonized Francis in 1228. Along with Saint Catherine of Siena, he was designated the patron saint of Italy. Francis is also known as the patron saint of animals and ecology (or natural environment). It is customary for Catholic and Anglican churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of October 4. Francis was born in 1181/1182 and died on October 3, 1226.
Pope Francis, who has turned out to be a remarkably progressive and humane leader, was the first pope to take Saint Francis of Assisi as his namesake. From my perspective, it was a very appealing and revealing choice, and Pope Francis is representing the name well. In our backyard garden, we have two statues. One is of Saint Francis holding a small bowl/birdbath; it’s a 20″ white stone/resin sculpture that was in the yard when we bought our house. The other sculpture, Jizō Bodhisattva, is one I purchased as a gift for my wife, Heidi. Jizō is a 15.5″ figure made of volcanic stone with an antique brown finish. Alongside these two sculptures is our 10″ plastic garden gnome of many travels, Dingledodger VonFefferhedge. Together they preside over our backyard cat cemetery, which includes the recently deceased The King.