By Charly SHELTON
In 1181, a child was born in Assisi, Italy named Giovanni Bernardone. His father was away in France on business and, when he returned home the following year, he was mortified to find that his son had been christened with a name taken for John the Baptist. The last thing he wanted was for his son to be a man of the cloth. He wanted his son to be a businessman of many cloths, to take over the family business of textile sales. So Giovanni was renamed Francesco, meaning Frenchman, after his father’s obsession with France.
Francesco grew up a rich boy without a care in the world. He was a partier, a successful businessman and a knight and, even in captivity during a war, he never lost his famous good humor. When the Fourth Crusade began, the jolly knight had a new golden suit of armor made and set out with boasts of promising to return as a prince. But one day’s ride out of Assisi, Francesco received a vision from God that he had been living his life incorrectly and needed to change his ways. He turned around and devoted his life to God. He received more visions from Jesus and God through the years, instructing him to rebuild the Church. He founded the Franciscan Friars and set up a new style of worship, treating everyone with honor, respect and love no matter what. He would later be canonized for his good works as Saint Francis of Assisi.
He had a soft spot for animals as well, and now on or around his feast day of Oct. 4, churches commemorate his life and legacy with the Blessing of the Animals.
St. Luke’s of the Mountains Church will hold its annual Blessing of the Animals service on Oct. 7 at 11 a.m. Pets of all kinds are welcome to come to the Church at 2563 Foothill Blvd. and receive the blessing of St. Francis.
“It will be a warm, inclusive experience with a captivating spiritual message,” said Vanessa Ynda, assistant Sunday school teacher at St. Luke’s. “A great spiritual battery recharge!”
For more information, visit StLukesLaCrescenta.org.