St Francis in the garden

St. Francis statues are common sights in many gardens.

I love to get decorative items, such as statues and stepping stones, to complement my flower beds.

I have a small statue of St. Francis of Assisi on display my daughter and son-in-law gave me.

Although I see this particular one quite a bit, I don’t know much about him and thought I’d look into the life of this robed man — his hand extended and surrounded by birds and animals.

I learned that Francis, born in the late 1100s, was from a wealthy Italian family. His choice to don a poor man’s robe and go barefoot reflected his life’s commitment to poverty and Christian service.

Although a patron saint of other things, he may be most commonly known for his love of animals and nature. It was recorded in “Fioretti” that Francis spent a great deal of time in nature, felt a close bond with animals and could attract birds with his voice.

According to Ignatius Charles Brady, “he believed that nature itself was the mirror of God. He called all creatures his brothers and sisters” and it is believed he even preached to the birds, which were not afraid of his voice or presence. According to Saint Bonaventure, Francis believed it was “the duty of men to protect and enjoy nature as both the stewards of God’s creation and as creatures ourselves.”

I love that about him.

It just so happens the life of St. Francis of Assisi, a saint in the Catholic Church, is officially observed with a feast Oct. 4 every year. I have found that his story, as it relates to nature, is definitely worthy of telling as he is remembered this week in Catholic services worldwide.

This being said, it’s no wonder he is a common figure to grace our gardens.

Knowing of his passion and commitment to nature, choosing to live much of his life outdoors and his appreciation of creation makes my St. Francis of Assisi statue more meaningful.

Darla Menking is a certified Bell County Texas Master Gardener and a Texas Master Naturalist. Email her at

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