By Zoe Matties – Manitoba Program Manager
Oct 4th marks Feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, and the end of the Season of Creation- a global time of celebration and prayer for creation. St. Francis was well known as someone who cared deeply for the earth and for animals. Today he is remembered as the patron saint of animals and the environment. There are many stories of how St. Francis encountered animals and even preached to them!
One of the most famous stories about Saint Francis is called Saint Francis and the Wolf of Gubbio. In this story it is said that there was wicked wolf that was terrorizing the village of Gubbio. This wolf was not only killing and eating animals, but people too. Having compassion for the town, St. Francis went out to find the wolf, even though he was warned of the danger. As he searched through the forest, the wolf suddenly charged at him, jaws gaping. St. Francis put out his hand and made the sign of the cross towards the charging wolf. Francis called to the wolf, “Come to me, Brother Wolf. In the name of Christ, I order you not to hurt anyone.” He listened to the wolf’s story, and explained how he must no longer hurt the people of Gubbio.
Then St. Francis and the wolf went back together to the town, and everyone was amazed. The people and the wolf agreed to live peaceably with each other, and from then on there was peace in the town.
While there very well could have been a wolf that was tamed by Francis in the village of Gubbio, when the Franciscans tell this story they remember that there were two factions in the town at the time of St. Francis. These factions were bitter enemies. Francis and his friars moved into the town, preached about God’s love, and modeled a different, peaceful way of living. In doing so, St Francis tamed the wolf of violence and disharmony that had been rooted within the people of town of Gubbio.
When I think of this story I am reminded that God’s desire for creation is for peace and harmony, not only between humans, but also between humans and non-human creation. Part of our work here on earth is to become, as St. Francis prayed, “instruments of God’s peace.”
As part of our work to become instruments of peace between human and non-human creation, A Rocha Manitoba has been monitoring traffic at the Boreal Ecology Centre. Not human traffic, but animal traffic! With the help of several wildlife cameras we have been capturing photos of the many different species of creature that co-inhabit the land around the Boreal Ecology Centre in East Braintree, Manitoba.
We hope these photos bring you as much encouragement and delight as they have for us!