nature

Saint Francis and Animal Blessings
Saint Francis of Assisi

After his death, Saint Francis was made the patron saint of animals and ecology.

If you’re one of the millions of people who enjoy animal videos online, you’re going to appreciate Saint Francis of Assisi. He lived in the late 12th century into the 13th century, during a time of great unrest in the Middle East. Francis upset his family when his life took a turn toward poverty and the priesthood. He would renounce his wealth and his family in order to serve God. When Francis was canonized after his death, he was made the patron saint of animals and ecology. His love of nature and all creatures makes him someone to remember even today. 

Saint Francis and His Legacy

In 1989, Liliana Cavani directed Mickey Rourke in “Francesco,” an Italian film which follows Francis’ life from a son of a wealthy silk merchant in Italy to a soldier in the army who would be captured in a war. Francis would later become a humanitarian and give up his family’s wealth to serve God. The film won three major awards and is a great representation of his life.

During the Fifth Crusade, Francis would attempt to mediate peace between the Christians and Muslims. Although he was unsuccessful, the Franciscans, his order of monks, were given permission to have a presence in the Holy Land. Since the 13th century, the Franciscans have almost steadily been the “Custodians of the Holy Land” for the Catholic Church.

El Greco painted a beautiful rendition of “Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata.” Saint Francis is said to have received five wounds similar to those that Christ received when he hung on the cross. Although many historians now believe he was stricken with leprosy, at the time it was considered to be a sign of exceptional religious faith.

Saint Francis has inspired many other works of art and music. As recently as 2005, Lewis Nielson composed a concerto for violin, called, “St. Francis Preaches to the Birds.” One of Bernard Malamud’s novels features a main character who lives the life of Saint Francis in Brooklyn during the 20th century.

Francis is remembered as a great poet and writer. Not only do his poems and works have religious value, but also literary value. This is the first few lines of “Canticle of the Sun,” believed to be one of the first works of literature written in Italian:

“Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!

All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

“To You, alone, Most High, do they belong.

No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name.

“Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures,

especially through my lord Brother Sun,

who brings the day; and You give light through him.

And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!

Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.”

It was written in the Umbrian dialect and translated into English for us to appreciate.

Your Pet Is an Important Member of Your Family

The church celebrates Saint Francis of Assisi on October 4, commonly with services that include blessings for animals. In many paintings, Saint Francis is portrayed with a bird in his hand because legend has it that he commanded the animals. One legend tells the tale of a wolf who lay down at his feet. Francis is thought to have worked out a pact with the wolf and the town dogs to protect the townspeople. He blessed the wolf.

Pope John Paul II referenced Saint Francis in 1982 on World Environment Day, reminding people to care and to love all of creation, to offer a healthy environment for those who come after us. Everyone can get behind being green and eco-conscious to protect our animals and the plants. You don’t have to be Christian to appreciate Saint Francis of Assisi.

Top Wedding Destinations in Canada

Recently married couple poses in the snow, johnhope14

Recently married couple poses in the snow

Canada boasts some of the top weddings destinations on the planet.  World-class metropolitan areas such as Toronto and Vancouver offer almost unprecedented cultural diversity, variety, and wedding opportunities.  In addition, nearby areas such as Whistler offer an ideal setting for snowy weddings, and winter weddings can be held comfortably aboard larger vessels on the Pacific Northwest coastline.

Below is a list of three very distinct Canadian wedding destinations that have the ability to transform almost any wedding ceremony into a truly memorable event:

·        The City of Toronto

In addition to being the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto has an extensive mass transit system that connects multiple neighborhoods including Polish Town, Little India, Greek Town, and multiple China Towns.  The city offers numerous traditional wedding venues as well as unparalleled religious and cultural diversity.  Couples can easily find ways to stay true to family culture and religious values while enjoying globally recognized art, dining, and accommodations.  Toronto is a winter wedding destination that offers a truly unique urban adventure.  The chilly winter conditions are usually less of an issue due to clean underground sidewalks and multiple indoor venues with spectacular views of the city skyline or Lake Huron.

·        Whistler, British Columbia

Whistler is located in the scenic mountains outside of Vancouver.  Whistler offers world-class skiing, resorts that specialize in winter weddings, and a prime location.  Like Toronto, Vancouver is a metropolitan area rich in cultural and religious diversity.  Vancouver has been nicknamed “the city of glass” due to its many impressive glass skyscrapers.  Only a short drive away from a phenomenal metropolitan area, Whistler has some of the best skiing and winter lodging on the planet for snowy weddings.

·        Maritime Weddings on the Northwest Coast

Some couples have an undying love for the ocean.  The Northwest Coast of Canada can offer fantastic winter maritime weddings.  Instead of embarking on an urban or Mountain adventure, couples can be married aboard private cruises that offer fine dining, top accommodations, and unparalleled scenery.  Unlike many parts of the East Coast or far North, the Northwest Pacific typically does not freeze.  There are ample opportunities to comfortably view marine life, natural wonders, and enjoy the serenity of the sea.

What to Look for in Destination Weddings

There are a number of considerations that should be taken into account before planning a destination wedding.  A few primary considerations are listed below:

  • Is the destination easily accessible for guests and others associated with the wedding?
  • Does the destination offer venues that meet religious and cultural needs?
  • Does the destination offer a chance for couples to afford the perfect wedding?

Winter Weddings in Canada are Recognized Among the Best

Besides boasting major cultural meccas and globally recognized destinations, Canada has something unique to offer.  Canada has a marked history of cultural diversity and eagerness to embrace different religions as well as progressive social change.  Canadians are known for being extraordinarily polite, and courtesy is a general hallmark of Canadian culture.  Canada is a very welcoming country with ample opportunities to create the perfect wedding for almost any couple. Whatever your dream winter wedding is, there are likely multiple Canadian wedding destinations that can turn that dream into a reality.