My patron saint, Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) was the Italian founder of the Franciscan Order of clergy. The son of a wealthy silk merchant, he turned to religion following a long illness. He decided to follow Christ's example and dedicate his life to others while living in poverty.
In his Canticle of the Creatures, he called upon Brother Sun and Sister Moon to praise God and spoke of the birds and other animals as if they were his friends. He is the patron saint of animals and ecologists.
The compassionate Francis attracted many followers as he cared for the sick and poor. Soon he settled near a leper colony in Assisi, Italy.
By 1215, the Pope granted permission for the group to be known as the Friars Minor (Little Brothers). With the spiritual example of humility, sacrifice, and service lived by Francis, the Franciscan order grew in nearly every large town of Western Europe.
In 1223, St. Francis began the custom of displaying the presepio, or Nativity scene and told the story of the birth of Christ using real people and live animals. He was canonized two years after his death.
Peace be with you.