Missionary Saints – St. Francis of Assisi

As the days grow colder and darker, the Church provides in the month of October saints who radiate the brilliance of lives dedicated to loving God and neighbor. October commences with the feast of the luminescent little way of love lived by St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Although the Little Flower remained cloistered in the convent she is the patron saint of Missions. How can this be? It is because of her prayer and works both here and in heaven for the salvation of souls.

One of the brightest lights to shine as a missionary example for us this month is Saint Francis of Assisi whose feast we celebrate on October 4. Saint Francis opened the window of his soul to enable the light of Christ to shine forth. One morning in February 1208, Francis participated in Mass in the chapel of St. Mary of the Angels. The Gospel reading of the day was the “Commissioning of the Twelve” in Matthew’s Gospel. Francis was inspired to go forth immediately proclaiming brotherly love to the people of the Italian countryside. His sincerity and simplicity drew others to him. One of the most dramatic missionary endeavors of Saint Francis is told in the book The Saint and the Sultan. In 1219, during the Fifth Crusade, Francis crossed enemy lines to gain an audience with Malik al-Kamil, the Sultan of Egypt. In this mission Saint Francis sowed love, faith, and forgiveness truly serving as an instrument of Divine Peace.

One of the most remarkable qualities of Saint Francis was his capacity for relationships. He related to all of creation. He wrote that followers of Jesus Christ must truly love all as closely and as tenderly as siblings, caring for each person as a brother or a sister. This fraternal love of the Christian missionary can warm a world that has grown cold.