October 4th, 2006

Madonna del "Magnificat" (detail)

Feast Day of St. Francis


Today it is the Feast Day of St. Francis (1181-1226). He was the son of a rich cloth merchant who gave up his family wealth to follow Christ. Christ was for him an example to be followed in spirit and literally. He dressed in rough clothes, lived in poverty, begged for his food and preached purity, and peace. He also cared for the poor, the sick and the animals. Francis founded an order in which people followed his lifestyle: the Franciscans (1209), an order that has spread over the whole world, and still is very alive. What I especially like about the Franciscans is that they take the fragility of life and human beings so serious. That is because St. Francis saw the face of God in everything. One of the most beautiful prayers he wrote is  Canticle of Brother Sun, in which he thanked all of creation, also Sister Death. He wrote about her: “Praised be You my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whom no [one] can escape…”.

In honour of the Feast Day of St. Francis I read a card to answer a question related to his life: What does it mean to me that the lives of us humans are fragile, that we can become sick and die?


I have pulled the Knight of Wands from the Fey Tarot, a young woman who rides on a bird, enjoying her speed. I find the fragility of life extremely difficult to cope with. I just want to go forward healthy, heading out for life-adventures without being hindered by handicaps, sickness and death. Although this is a optimistic card, related to the question its meaning is sorrow, because (my) life (often) is not as healthy as it is depicted on the card. 

Painting: St. Francis in Meditation by El Greco