Saint Francis of Assisi’s love was not limited to birds and beasts. When possible he would throw fresh caught fish back into the water, urging them to not let themselves be taken again. A cicada made its home beside the Master’s cell, and sang there lustily. Francis summoned the creature; it settled on his hand. Said Francis: “Sing, Sister Cicada, and by your joyous stridulations praise the god who made you.” Whenever Francis left his cell he would tickle the insect and bid it sing. Then he ordered it to be gone, for feat that it might make of his conquest a pretext for vanity.
Francis spent a full day watching bees at their work and applauding their industry. He can be mentioned that he did not like ants, which work too long and hard. He gave the bees honey and wine to sustain them in winter. He would pick up worms on the path ans set them aside lest they be crushed.
He loved flowers, too, and preached to the spring fields in bloom. He insisted that space be left in the kitchen garden for flowers, which proclaim the beauty of the Father and suggest the perfume of eternal suavity. He said: “Every creature cries aloud: ‘god made me for thee, O man!’” He loved the living woods, and ordered the woodcutters merely to trim trees, not destroy them. The trees, he said, should remember Jesus dead on their cross. He was fascinated by fire, and would not allow it to be roughly extinguished. Water he loved also, especially in running brooks; he walked reverently on stones. When washing his hands, he was careful not to spill water where a foot might tread on it.
Curiously, this lover of all life did not take the next logical, almost inevitable step and refuse to eat meat. On one occasion, simple Brother Juniper attacked a herd of swine with a kitchen knife, cut off a foot, and served it to the Master. Francis ate it with gusto; he expressed the utmost sympathy with the robbed swineherd, who was uttering dolorous cries, but none for the squealing three-legged pig. Francis hardly attained consistency, a precarious state.
The owner of the pig was furious and hurled abuse at the Franciscans. Francis demanded that Juniper apologise and make some reparation to the farmer. Juniper was a simple soul, though, and failed to understand how the man could be so upset about such an act of kindness so he retold the story of the pig’s trotter as if he had done the farmer a favour. When the farmer exploded at this, Junpier assumed he had misunderstood and gave him a hug, told the story again- this time hamming it up great deal- and asked that the whole pig could be given to the Franciscans. The farmer was won over by Juniper’s pigheadedness and donated the animal to be slaughtered.
Perhaps Juniper would have looked back to the father of monasticism, St Anthony, who is also the patron saint of pigs. While on a year of solitary retreat and prayer, Anthony was tempted by the devil appearing to him in the form of a fierce porker which viciously mauled him. Anthony graciously resisted the temptation to fight back and serve-up bacon butties, was enveloped by a ‘wondrous light’ and the pig was transformed into a humble and docile porcine companion. Since then, ‘Tantony’ (a contraction of ‘Saint Anthony’) is the nickname given to runt piglets in the litter. Read More:http://www.theologynetwork.org/merrie-theologiane/2009-04/pigs-and-persistence/