Photo 1. St. Francis taming the wolf of Gubbio, statue on the quay of
Košljun Island (Photo by M. Randić)ON ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI FEAST DAY
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs
Francis of Assisi
The small island of Košljun at Puntarska Draga on Krk
Island has been a special reserve of forest vegetation since 1969. Unlike
most small islands of similar size in the Adriatic, Košljun is not fallow
and rocky thanks to its beautiful and well preserved forest of evergreen
holm oak, which is unique to this part of Krk Island. It is a less known
fact that credit for the conservation and care of the forest (and partly
for tree planting) goes to the Franciscans at the monastery on Košljun.
Remarkably, the other protected forest reserve on Krk Island, the holm-oak
forest at Glavotok, is also owned by the monastery of the Franciscans
of the Third Order. In this way, the Franciscans on Krk Island have embraced
the vision and deeds of their founder, St. Francis, with regard to nature
and natural assets, thus improving and exalting their immediate environment
and making it a “sacred place”
Clearly, this is not an isolated case in the world. Many
sanctuaries are known for their preserved natural environment and their
inspiring atmosphere. Here is a well-known case: The Franciscans were
pivotal in helping to preserve a famous sacred site located within the
Casentino National Park in the Italian Apennines and directly linked to
the life of St. Francis. The site is the protected forest at the Sanctuary
of La Verna where St. Francis came to pray and where he received the stigmata.
St. Francis is beloved for his unusually emotional association
with nature and all of Creation, all beings and phenomena in nature. He
respected and admired the Earth, the wind, the Sun, the Moon, the stars,
the clouds…but also the birds, the cricket, the worm… which he called
his brothers and sisters. His message is all the more important today
in this time of grave environmental crises and Nature’s devastation. That
is why 4 October, the Feast Day of St. Francis, is also celebrated as
World Animal Day.
Over the past ten years, the Feast Day of St. Francis
has been traditionally celebrated on Košljun with a flower ceremony entitled
“The Island Flower”. An exhibition of posters featuring the
loveliest gardens on Krk Island was held in the cloister of the monastery.
All events were organized by the Krk Island Tourist Board, including a
contest for the most beautiful garden on Krk Island.
Photo 2. St. Francis Preaching to the Birds, fresco at Assisi www.friendsofart.net)