The first question really is: “Why are we called Saint Francis Capital?”

And the answer is: “Because Saint Francis has always held special meaning for me and I chose to honor him in this manner.”

So, who is Francis? Historically, we know Giovanni di Pietro “Francesco” Bernardone was the son of a wealthy silk merchant from Assisi, Italy, and, for his first 27 years, more or less lived the life of a rich, jaded playboy. When Francis was 17, he joined the men of his village as they attacked the local castle while the Duke was away. They killed every man who stood in their way and then tore down the walls and carried the stones back home where they used them to reinforce the walls of Assisi. Emboldened by their seemingly easy victory, they soon attacked the neighboring town of Perugia where the Duke had taken refuge. But the Duke had learned of the pending attack and planned accordingly. The warriors from Assisi were quickly defeated and Francis was taken prisoner. He spent about a year in captivity before his family obtained his release after paying a ransom. It was during his solitary moments in prison that his thoughts turned to matters of a more spiritual nature.

Over the next few years, Francis withdrew more and more from his former life but, once again, battle was at hand: The men of Assisi were summoned to the aid of the Papal Army who were besieged by enemies of the church several days travel away. Francis answered the call but, as he rode along, he heard a voice ask him: “Francis! Who do you serve? The servant or the master?” At first he thought it was one of his companions playing him a trick, but, looking around, he saw he was alone. He then realized it was not an earthly voice he had heard but the voice of the Lord. “I am at your service, Lord,” he replied. “Just tell me what you would have me do.”

At the Lord’s request, the obedient Francis returned to Assisi and turned more and more away from his family’s wealth and privilege. His father, dismayed at his son’s rejection of all of the family’s material things, finally disowned him. Francis cast his clothing at the feet of his parents, put on a habit made of rough, uncomfortable fabric, and began his career as an itinerant preacher, wandering the hills and villages for miles around, giving sermons to anyone who would listen: birds, livestock, dogs, cats, farmers, fellow travelers on the road. Accounts of these sermons say that the animals, particularly, were fascinated with Francis and that they would not only gather around him, they would listen to him with rapt attention. Wherever Francis preached, he gathered also the brothers who would soon become the foundation of the Franciscan Order.

Today, Francis is more familiar to us as the Patron Saint of Animals. There are pet tags asking him to protect the pet who wears them, depictions of Francis preaching to the animals he encountered in his travels, backyard feeders in his image, arms outstretched so the birds may perch upon him, icons of Francis with both wolf and lamb at his feet. It was this Francis that first drew me to him.

When I lived in the Texas Hill Country, I had acres and animals. Sometimes the only way of caring for a large number of animals is with the help of someone you trust and someone you can turn to when things turn for the worse. I found myself in frequent conversations with Francis, asking for his help with an ailing animal, for comfort when we lost the battle, and for patience and faith when I had an animal who strayed from the property. Those conversations became a rock in the fast-moving river, a place for me to hold tight to until I could gather myself for the swim to shore. It will come as no surprise, then, that my favorite cause is the cause of animals and especially the rescue efforts of so many volunteers who give literally thousands and thousands of hours of their time to prevent the needless deaths of so many wonderful animals—animals who, given a caring and loving home, could bring so much love and joy by their mere presence.

Saint Francis Capital and I, personally, pledge that we will give generously, both in time and in money, to our cause to make sure not one more loving creature is euthanized because a shelter ran out of time. A loving heart is not measured by time; neither should it’s life be.

Saint Francis will always be the symbol of our commitment and the source of our inspiration. If Francis inspires you, too, please call us. We can point you in the direction of many great charities and organizations who would like to hear from you.

And, along those lines, please visit the website of The Saint Francis Capital Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to the cause of animal rescue. While we launched the organization in late 2015, we are still growing and maturing and we could use your help. Stay tuned, give us a hand, and may God richly bless you in every way.

─Kaye