Anyone who visits our house might guess at why we love Saint Francis of Assisi, known for his love of animals. We have three large rescue dogs. We have a portrait of a yellow lab in 19th century formalwear gracing our wall near the portraits of our actual ancestors. We have dog throw pillows, dog door mats, dog cremation remains in a wooden box on our mantle, and dog breed encyclopedias on our coffee table. We keep the Orvis dog catalog long after it should have been recycled, because the photos make us smile. My Instagram feed features such celebrities as a golden retriever who eats vegetables and corgis on stairs. There may or may not be an odor in every room of our home, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
And so, Saint Francis seems like the obvious saint for us. But what I really love about Saint Francis is how he represents Jesus’ conquering our fears. There is a legend about Saint Francis of Assisi, which I did not know until I was an adult.
We have a lot of fear in our world right now. I don’t think violence is the answer to our fear, but I don’t know what the answer is. I’m grateful for the peacemakers, like Saint Francis, who represent God’s unrelenting love and care in the face of fear.
Saint Francis’ taming of the Wolf of Gubbio reminds me of a verse in one of my favorite hymns, “O for a thousand tongues to sing.”
Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
‘Tis life, and health, and peace.
Jesus, the name that charms our fears. The fears might be hunger or they might be the Wolf of Gubbio. Saint Francis reminds us that Jesus peacefully charms our fears and bids our sorrows cease.