There are many saints who loved animals. St Arsenius the Cappadocian, St Hubert, St Modestos, and St Columba come to mind. But there are many others as well. Let’s take a look at some of their lives and the love they had for the animal kingdom.
St Arsenius the Cappadocian
St Arsenius the Cappadoician was a Greek Orthodox priest who lived in Cappadocia. His village fell to the Muslim Turks in 1453, but the Greek residents there formed an oasis of Orthodox Christianity. St Arsenius the Cappadocius was their spiritual father and healer and was revered by the Muslim population as well as the Greek people. His miracle-working abilities saved his village from the marauding Turks.
As a young man, St. Arsenius was raised by pious parents. When his family died, he chose a life of reclusion and prayer. In this time, he received the guidance of his wise spiritual father. In prayer, St. Arsenius was carried to Paradise, where he experienced blessedness. This ecstasy lasted four days.
In the year 726, St Hubert had a vision that he would die while reciting the “Our Father” prayer. He became a martyr and became a popular saint during the Middle Ages. Many military orders were named after him. In addition to his role as a martyr, St Hubert was known for his love of animals.
Hubert was raised in the Catholic faith and his mother prayed for him constantly. At age 26, he married Floribonne, a devout woman who helped him regain his faith. Sadly, his wife died just after giving birth to his first son.
St Modestos, an Orthodox saint of the Seventh Century, was a patron of animals. He is revered as a saint of animals and was also known as the patron saint of dumb animals. According to the Orthodox tradition, he and his sister, Saint Mama, aided in the salvation of all souls, including those of the dumb. In addition to helping the poor, these two saints also protected the life of infants and preventing pernicious infections. Saint Mamanta was sometimes thrown to wild animals and walked alongside them. Often, St Modestos is shown on a lion, but he was also depicted holding a doe.
The Greek Orthodox Church also honors St Modestos as the patron of farm animals. His feast day is celebrated with various rituals that honor animals, including the blessing of oxen and horses and the mixing of holy water in the feed for cattle. The blessing of animals in his honor has been practiced for centuries.
Saint Columba was born on the island of Ireland, to a family of kings. He was directly descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, a high king of Ireland from the fifth century. According to his biographer, Saint Adamnan, Columba had a fine nature and was holy in his deeds and counsel. He was also very kind to animals and people. However, his temperament changed greatly throughout his life. At first, he was stern and strict, but he later softened and came to love animals and people alike.
Legend has it that he banished the ferocious “water beast” and won the respect of the pagan King Bridei of Inverness. Later, he became a major figure in Scottish politics and founded several churches in the Hebrides. He also turned his monastery on the island of Iona into a missionary school for his fellow monks. He was also a prolific writer and transcribed about 300 books.
St Francis of Assisi
One of the most famous Orthodox saints who loved animals was St Francis of Assisi. At just twenty years old, Francis was imprisoned in a dungeon during a war. He was soon released, but was imprisoned for a year. His father paid a ransom to secure his freedom, and after he was released, Francis began to have visions from God. The first came when he was suffering from a high fever. He thought God wanted him to take part in the Crusades. When he grew older, however, he realized that he was being led to a new life in the church. After his release, he began to pray more and give his money to the church. He left his father’s home and a large portion of his income
Francis was born in the town of Assisi, Umbria, in central Italy. He was named Francis after his father, who was a successful clothing merchant. While growing up, Francis was taught to read and write. However, he was not expected to go to college. His father had “set him up” to succeed as a merchant, so he did not spend much time studying.