Koinonia Farm’s vision statement is “love through service to others, joy through generous hospitality, peace through reconciliation.” All of our guest rooms are named after people who have come before us and embodied these ideas. These peacemakers are from all over the world and from all different periods of history. This “great cloud of witnesses” and their stories encourage us to keep pursuing love, joy, and peace in our life and work.
Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) is one of the most well known saints in the history of the Christian church. He was born to a rich merchant family in Italy. He enjoyed a comfortable life and took pleasure in his luxurious surroundings. In 1201, Francis fought in a battle against Perugia and was taken captive. He was imprisoned for a year during which time he suffered from disease and had mystical visions. On his journey home after being released from prison, he spent time in prayer waiting to hear from God again.
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
After being released from prison, Francis began turning away from his old life and toward a life modeled after Christ. He then heard the voice of Jesus calling him to rebuild the church. Francis gave away his possessions and devoted himself to “Lady Poverty.” His father was furious with this decision and Francis renounced his family ties. He lived a simple life in the region of Assisi and worked on restoring churches there. In 1209, he began preaching in the countryside and gained a following. In 1210, Pope Innocent III recognized this group as the Order of Friar’s Minor. Francis also founded two other orders in his lifetime: in 1212, the Order of St. Clare and in 1221 the Third Order of Brothers and Sisters of Penance.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
Francis traveled around preaching his message and gained many followers for his Orders. He would often preach to animals and showed an immense respect and devotion to creation. He strongly believed all God’s creation was related to each other. He is credited as the first person to set up a crèche (nativity scene) and to receive the stigmata (the five wounds of Christ). Shortly after receiving stigmata, he fell ill. Francis died on October 3, 1226. He was canonized two years after his death. He is the patron saint of animals, the environment, and Italy. Francis’ legacy lies in his devotion to his calling to rebuild Christ’s church, to live a life of poverty, and his love and respect of creation.
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.