Franciscan Footprints

TulipsEven though the House of Formation for the Sisters of the Third Order of St Francis live in the “city,” you’d be surprised at the amount of wildlife we have in the yard!  St Francis, who LOVED God’s creation, makes him the patron saint of animals and of the environment.  He'd be proud!

One of his most-documented encounters was with a “multitude of birds of different types gathered, including doves, crows and magpies,” who, even as he moved closer, the birds did not fly away, but listened to him preach.  They did not leave their perches until after he blessed and then dismissed them.  After reviewing multiple books and sources about this story, this happenstance is often described as if St Francis was walking and then saw this flock of birds and—in his excitement—ran to them and began to preach to them, too.  However, in the biography, Reluctant Saint: The Life of Francis of Assisi by Donald Spoto, published in 2002 by Viking Compass, the author states that St Francis, “Annoyed at the indifference of so many people and dejected at the apparent failure of all their efforts, Francis announced that he would probably have a more respectful hearing from the birds—which is exactly what happened.”

Whether St Francis really was frustrated with the people or he desired to address all of God’s creatures, rational and irrational, it is only the beginning of his relations with animals.  There are numerous stories of how St Francis interacted with nature.  Freeing a captured rabbit, convincing a boy to give him the dove the youth managed to cage, releasing fish back into the water, reasoning with a wolf to stop terrorizing a village, and others.  All because St Francis loved all God’s creatures and His creation and the animals recognized St Francis as a friend.

Here in our yard, we are blessed to have two varieties of squirrels, wild rabbits, three species of woodpeckers, deer, two burrows of groundhog, and TURKEYS!

Meet Tom the Turkey, an eastern wild turkey, on a visit last year:Tom the Turkey 1

Check out his dance moves in this FaceBook video.










Starting in late March this year, his "girls'" began hanging out in the yard. -->Flock of turkey hens

Wooded area behind convent








The turkeys reside in this wooded area between the convent and the hospital parking garage. I've seen our groundhog, a.k.a. woodchuck, hanging out down here, too.  However, their burrows are MUCH closer to the house - unfortunately.

The groundhogs prohibit a vegetable garden in the yard and they have been known to devour entire flowerbeds of zinnias.  Or was it the rabbits?  Or the deer?

 Squirrel Running Away






We also have at least two types of mischievous squirrels, the eastern gray squirrel and, pictured here running away from the camera, I believe to be a fox squirrel -->



St Francis would be proud of the wildlife living in this urban setting!

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