Dusty Feasts

Official feasts used to be an important part of the human community. People would gather together to remember something sacred, express their faith and hope for the future, and / or just be together formally, recognizing each other as being part of a shared community. Few things express a desire for shared companionship and social intimacy more than dining together. Sadly, the gathering together for feasting is increasingly a relic of the past – at least here in the West.

It need not be so! Today we will remember the ancient feasts.

THE FEAST OF ST. Francis of Assisi

This feast is a Christian religious celebration of the sainted Italian decon, St. Francis of Assisi, who helped bring renewal to the Church. From wiki

Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone (c. 1181 – 3 October 1226), known as Francis of Assisi OFM, was an Italian mystic and Catholic friar who founded the Franciscans. He was inspired to lead a life of poverty as an itinerant preacher. One of the most venerated figures in Christianity, Francis was canonized by Pope Gregory IX on 16 July 1228. He is usually depicted in a brown habit with a rope around his waist with three knots, symbolizing the three Franciscan vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

In 1219, he went to Egypt in an attempt to convert the sultan al-Kamil and put an end to the conflict of the Fifth Crusade. In 1223, he arranged for the first live nativity scene as part of the annual Christmas celebration in Greccio. According to Christian tradition, in 1224 Francis received the stigmata during the apparition of a Seraphic angel in a religious ecstasy.

He founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of St. Clare, the Third Order of St. Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Once his community was authorized by Pope Innocent III, he withdrew increasingly from external affairs.

Francis is associated with patronage of animals and the environment. It became customary for churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of 4 October. He is known for devotion to the Eucharist. Along with Catherine of Siena, he was designated patron saint of Italy. San Francisco in California, United States, is named after him.

What do you eat for The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi?

The Feast Day for this saint is not as much a celebration through eating, as it is a celebration through solemn participation through some set activities.

In Italy, among practicing Catholics, starting on October 3, the town of Assisi is illuminated by oil lamps burning consecrated oil brought from a different Italian town each year. Religious services are held in the Basilica of St Francis and in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

Around the world, children bring their pets to the church to be blessed on St Francis’ feast day, due to St. Francis’s love for animals, as expressed in his Canticle of Creatures. People may also plan a nature walk and teachers, caregivers or parents may spend time helping children write about plants, insects and animals that they see. This feast coincides with World Animal Day, so it is a common practice for teachers and parents to discuss endangered animals with their children on this day.

You don’t eat anything?

Well, one way that some celebrate the holiday with food is by baking almond cookies. St. Francis was said to be fond of them, even requesting them upon his deathbed.


St. Francis’ Almond Cookies

1 3/4 Cups whole almonds
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons Flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 Cup sliced almonds

Toast whole almonds in 300° oven 5 minutes.  Cool.  Place in food processor with sugar, flour, and salt.  Process until finely ground.  Add and process egg whites and extract.

Drop by teaspoonfuls on parchment covered baking sheet 1″ apart.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds.  Bake at 300° for 25 minutes.

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

The feast also can include a prayer (such as the one below):

Saint Francis’s Canticle of All Creatures

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.

To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.

Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
Mother Earth
who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial.

Blessed are those who endure in peace, By You Most High, they will be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.

No second death can do them harm. Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,
And serve Him with gre

When is this feast celebrated?

As mentioned above, the Feast Day of St. Francis is on October 4, every year. If you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful day.

2 thoughts on “Dusty Feasts

    1. Writing these posts, I am struck by how foreign the not-so-distant past feels. I cannot help but feel that a lot of work went into preparing these gatherings. I wonder if it was a short trip from “let’s just dine out together, that’s easier” to “I think I’ll skip ____ this year.”

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