St. Francis and the Wolf

Renunciation of Worldly Goods, The Bishop of Assisi Dresses St Francis. Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene south wall). 1452 Fresco in the basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.

As a young man, Francis of Assisi gave away cloth and other goods from his merchant father’s supplies. His father sued his son in court, trying to impress on him that his behavior was unacceptable. But Francis took of all his clothes in court and laid them at his father’s feet, renouncing everything that he had from his father so as to avoid future accusations that he was giving to the poor out of someone else’s resources. The bishop of Assisi, who was the judge in the court, gave Francis something to wear and Francis stepped out into the world as a beggar. He changed Western Europe forever.

Although almost everyone knows the story of St. Francis preaching to the birds, not many people know any other stories that are told about St. Francis. One legend that is among my favorites tells that in the city of Gubbio, where Francis lived for some time, was a wolf “terrifying and ferocious, who devoured men as well as animals.” Francis had compassion upon the townsfolk, and so he went up into the hills to find the wolf. Soon, fear of the animal had caused all his companions to flee, though the saint pressed on. When he found the wolf, he made the sign of the cross and commanded the wolf to come to him and hurt no one. Miraculously the wolf closed his jaws and lay down at Francis’ feet.

“Brother Wolf, you do much harm in these parts and you have done great evil,” said Francis. “All these people accuse you and curse you … But brother wolf, I would like to make peace between you and the people.” Then Francis led the wolf into the town, and surrounded by startled citizens made a pact between them and the wolf. Because the wolf had “done evil out of hunger, the townsfolk were to feed the wolf regularly. In return, the wolf would no longer prey upon them or their flocks. In this manner Gubbio was freed from the menace of the predator. Francis even made a pact on behalf of the town dogs, that they would not bother the wolf again. Finally, to show the townspeople that they would not be harmed, Francis blessed the wolf.”

According to tradition, Gubbio gave the wolf an honorable burial and later built the Church of Saint Francis of the Peace at the site. During renovations in 1872, the skeleton of a large wolf, apparently several centuries old, was found under a slab near the church wall and then reburied inside.

Because of St. Francis association with the wolf of Gubbio and the birds he preached to, many churches bless animals on the Sunday nearest to St. Francis’ feast day (October 4).

Leo the Lion

 

 

The Lion, long considered the "king of beasts," rules the sky from July 23 to August 23.

The Lion, long considered the “king of beasts,” rules the sky from July 23 to August 23.

Leo was one of the earliest recognized constellations, with archaeological evidence that the Mesopotamians had a similar constellation as early as 4000 BCE. The Persians called Leo Ser or Shir; the Turks, Artan; the Syrians, Aryo; the Jewish, Arye; the Indians, Simha, all meaning “lion”. In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was called UR.GU.LA, the “Great Lion”; the bright star Regulus was known as “the star that stands at the Lion’s breast.” Regulus also had distinctly regal associations, as it was known as the King Star.

In Greek mythology, Leo was identified as the Nemean Lion which was killed by Hercules during one of his twelve labours, and next put into the sky.

The Roman poet Ovid called it Herculeus Leo and Violentus Leo. Bacchi Sidus (star of Bacchus) was another of its titles, the god Bacchus always being identified with this animal. However, Manilius called it Jovis et Junonis Sidus (Star of Jupiter and Juno).

In standard western astrology, the Sun is considered to be in the sign Leo from July 23 to August 23. People born under this sign are considered confident, ambitious, generous, loyal, and encouraging though they can also manifest less-desirable characteristics and be considered pretentious, domineering, melodramtic, stubborn, and vain.