47 Our Dumb Animals 1 (1914-1915)

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    Though graced with polished manners      4
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 Yet wanting sensibility, the man          PEACE  cN EARTH
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Vol. 47                                              Boston, June, 1914                                                          No. 1


Saint


       weet Saint Francis of Assisi
       Would   that thou wert here againl
is a couplet frequently on my lips, but until lately
I have  never read a life of this wonderful man
who  was so good a friend to birds and beasts and
humankind.
   Beginning from the time when he was a wild
young  soldier, singing with his friends through
the streets of the town of Spoleto, his history is
a marvelous one.  For in the midst of his revelry,
he was turned back by a vision, and falling into
an  ecstasy, it repented him that he  had so
grievously sinned, nor could he take  pleasure
either in the past nor in the present for he had
not yet received assurance that he would refrain
from sin in the future.
  A   little later, while praying in a ruinous
church, he  heard these words, Francis, seest
thou not that my house is being destroyed? Go
therefore and repair it.
  And  he trembling and astonished, said, Gladly
will I do it, 0 Lord!
   From  that hour his heart was  bruised and
melted, and, taking in a literal sense the com-
mand  to repair God's house, he begged in Assisi
for stones which he carried on his shoulders to
repair the church of St. Damian.
   He wooed  the Lady  Poverty, and  begged
his food  from  door to door.   Soon, disciples
joined him, and gave up all their worldly posses-
sions.  This devoted band of men preached with
fervor, and vast numbers  of persons were con-
verted.  This all happened about the year 1212.
  The  influence of St. Francis became more and
more  far-reaching, owing firstly, to his absolute
devotion to the person of his Lord and Master,
and secondly, to his own loving personality. The
very success of his movement in later years frus-
trated some of his early plans for his order, but
for that St. Francis cannot be held responsible.
For a lover of animals, his great interest lies in
the fact that his intense religious devotion did
not interfere with his care of those who could not
  Miss Marshall Saunders, long a resident of Halifax, Nova
Scotia, is one of the best known and most prolific writers
of animal stories for young readers and has been a frequent
contributor to Our Dumb Animals. In 1894 she was
awarded a prize by the American Humane Education
Society for Beautiful Joe, which has become the most
popular dog story ever written.


Francis  of


By MARSHALL SAUNDERS

speak   for themselves. Good  St. Francis loved
every   created thing.  There  are still monks
who   guard his rocky retreat up in the hills back
of  Assisi, and when my  sister visited them two
years  ago, they talked much to her of the saint,
and   later sent her narcissus and cyclamen bulbs
that  she  planted in her garden in Rochester,
New   York.   They also sent her pictures of the
trees where  the little birds sat when St. Francis
preached  his memorable sermon  to them.
    My  sisters the birds, he said, much are ye
 beholden  to God your  creator, and alway and
 in every place ought ye to praise Him, because
 He  hath  given you  liberty to fly, and hath
 clothed you with twofold and threefold raiment.
 Moreover,  He  preserved your seed in the ark,
 and  He feedeth you and  giveth you rivers and
 fountains wherein to drink.
   At  the end of his sermon, the birds began to
 open their beaks, and to stretch out their necks,
 and to spread their wings, and reverently to bow
 their heads even unto the ground, and to show
 by  their motions and their songs that the holy
 Father gave them  very great delight. Then he
 made  over them the sign of the Cross, and they
 flew into the air 'with wondrous songs.'
    Even more  interesting to me than the bird
 sermon  is the story of the very fierce wolf of
 Agobio.
    This wolf devoured not only animals, but also
 men  and women   and for dread of him no one
 dared to leave the city.
    St. Francis, making the sign of the Cross, took
 the road to the wolf's retreat. The wolf made
 at him  with open mouth, whereupon St. Francis
 advanced  toward him, Come  hither, friar wolf.
 I command   thee in Christ's name that thou do
 no harm  to me nor to any other. 0 marvelous
 thing!  Scarcely had St. Francis made the sign
 of the Cross than the terrible wolf came and laid
 himself down at the feet of the holy man.
    Now, just here I would say to doubters, that
 about  the year of our Lord  1908, I heard an
 animal lover in the city of Boston assert that he
 did not believe any wild creature would injure
 any  man who  would confront him with absolute
 fearlessness. He cited his own case when he had
 gone  among  rattlesnakes and had received no
 injury.


Ass isi


  To  continue the story of the wolf. He went
like a gentle lamb to the piazza with St. Francis,
who,  shrewd loving old saint as he was, took
occasion to preach a sermon  to the assembled
multitude, using the conquered wild beast as an
illustration.
  At the close of the sermon, friar wolf by gentle
movements  of his body, tail, and ears gave assent
to a covenant of peace with the people of Agobio.
Thereafter, the said wolf lived two years in the
town  neither doing injury to any one, nor re-
ceiving any, and never did any dog bark  after
him.  Finally he died of old age and, some hun-
dreds of years later, while making some altera-
tions in the Via del Globo the skull of a wolf was
found  precisely on the spot  pointed out  by
tradition as the burial-place of the beast.
  Another pretty story about St. Francis is that
he chanced to meet a youth who had many turtle-
doves to sell.
  Said the saint, Good youth, I pray thee give
them  to me, that birds so gentle which in the
Scriptures are likened unto chaste and humble
and  faithful souls, come not into the hands of
cruel men who  would slay them.
  And  St. Francis went  and  made  nests for
them  all, and they hatched forth their young,
and  so tame and  familiar were they that they
might have been domestic fowls.
  Later on, the youth who had had them became
a friar and served Jesus Christ with all his heart.
  Once a hawk  assisted St. Francis in continuing
a fast. Every  night, a little before matins, it
awakened  the saint by beating itself against his
cell. However,  when the holy man  was  more
weary than usual or weak or sick, this hawk after
the  manner  of a  discreet and compassionate
person, uttered its cry later than it was wont
to do.  St. Francis took great joy of this bird
because it drove away from him all sloth. Some-
times in the daytime it would familiarly sit with
him.
  These  stories of St. Francis have been oft re-
peated, but it does us who love the beasts and
the  birds good to retell them.  My  object in
repeating them is to urge on lovers of all human-
ity a reading of the life of this wonderful man
in order that we may  learn lessons of devotion,
of humanity, of patience, and of self-abnegation.


5V


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