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On this day in 1181 Saint Francis of Assisi was born.
The son of a prosperous silk merchant, Francis lived an idle life of pleasure until undergoing a spiritual experience in his early 20s. This led him to renounce all worldly things and dedicate his life to helping the poor. He founded the Franciscan Order of Friars for men and the Poor Clares for women. He also founded the Third Order of St Francis for those unable to follow the itinerant preacher’s life.
Famous for his gentleness and love of animals, Francis is one of Christianity’s best loved saints. The following prayer is probably wrongly attributed to him (it cannot be traced before 1912), but sets out his ideals well:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Today I ask that I may be humble and loving as St Francis was.